Novak Djokovic to play exhibition events before Australian Open

Tyler Owen
January 5, 2018

Williams was pregnant when she won at Melbourne Park previous year, her Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The seven-time Australian Open champion confirmed Friday she wouldn't attempt to defend the title she won here a year ago, saying she wasn't convinced she could win it.

Williams lost the exhibition contest against Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi on 30 December 2017, in her first match since giving birth in September.

The younger Williams sister goes on to say in a statement to media, "My coach and team always said "only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way".

However, the organisers are quick to clarify that this only applies to players whose absence makes a dent of at least a million Australian dollars to the tournament.

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In addition, it features a request that women "walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black".

Six-time Australian Open victor Djokovic still remains highly doubtful for the Australian Open but will be travelling to Australia to compete in the Tie Break Tens at the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park on January 10.

The 23-time Grand Slam victor played her first match since giving birth at the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on December 30, losing her exhibition match to reigning French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Kim Clijsters returned from retirement after having a daughter, Jada Elle, in February 2008, and won the 2009 U.S. Open in her third tournament back.

There is also uncertainty over whether former champions Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Rafa Nadal, the latter of which arrived in Melbourne earlier on Friday, will be fit to take to the court. "I appreciate the support and understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open", said the 36-year-old.

Tournament director Craig Tiley called Williams' efforts to try and be ready for a title defence at the Australian Open "Herculean" and said she transcended the sport.

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