Serena Williams to Play Australian Open, Roger Federer Withdraws

Courtesy+of+Wikimedia

Courtesy of Wikimedia

Alex Mailes, Sports Writer

Professional tennis will soon make its return in the new year kicking off with The Australian Open. Serena Williams, a seven-time women’s singles champion down underis still expected to take the court on February 8th. This has been a bit of shock considering that she missed the later portion of the 2020 season due to an achilles injury, pulling out of the French Open after her firstround win. Despite this, she has remained optimistic that she will be healthy enough to play in Melbourne. She has been routinely downplaying her condition saying in a recent press conference, “I’m not worried about my body in general, because it’s an acute injury, not a recurring problem that has come back. It would have been worse if it had been my knee. These things happen, I was unlucky. If Serena does participate, she could potentially make history by winning her 24th grand slam title and tying the record set by Margaret Court in 1975. Serena’s run in last year’s Australian open ended in disappointment; she was upset in the third round by the top Chinese star, Qiang Wang, in three setsThe eventual champion was Sofia Kenin, defeating Garbiñe Muguruza in three sets. 

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Roger Federer, one of the biggest stars on the men’s tour, had also been slated to play until his recent withdrawal. The Swiss star announced his plans to pull out to the Associated Press last Sunday. His decision was disheartening, as many fans were excited to see his comeback after a lengthy hiatus. He had missed most of the 2020 season, being sidelined by a knee injury that required multiple surgeries. Federer cited lingering complications with his latest surgery as the main reason he chose to skip Melbourne this yearHis agent, Tony Godsick, clarified Federer’s progress and future tennis plans; “He has made strong progress in the last couple of months with his knee and his fitness. However, after consultation with his team, he decided that the best decision for him, in the long run, is to return to competitive tennis after the Australian Open.” This is the first time Federer has skipped the Australian open since first qualifying in January 2000, which breaks his streak of 19 consecutive appearances, a tour record. His last Australian open appearance ended in a semi-final defeat from the eventual champion and current world number 1, Novak Djokovic.  

Despite Federer’s absence, plenty of other big names are expected to make an appearance. Defending champion and current world number 1, Novak Djokovic, will be trying to repeat his success from last year, Rafael Nadal will be trying to win his 21st major, a men’s tour record, and Dominic Thiem will be looking to win another major after winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open last AugustThe women’s draw is also expected to field a strong lineup including current top-ranked Ashleigh Bartyreigning US open winner Naomi Osaka, and defending Austrian Open champ Sofia Kenin. 

The Australian Open will start play on February 8th, 2021 in MelbourneAustralia at Melbourne Park. Coverage of the Australian Open will be available on ESPN and Tennis Channel.  

Alex Mailes is a Dakota Student Sports Writer. He can be reached at alex.mai[email protected]