SERENA WILLIAMS WITHDRAWS FROM AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Williams has won the last two Australian Opens
Defending champion Serena Williams has pulled out of January's Australian Open because of a longstanding foot injury.

Williams had surgery after cutting her foot on glass in a restaurant while celebrating winning Wimbledon.

“As I recently learned, pushing myself back into my intense training too early only caused further injury,” Williams said in a statement.

“It is imperative for my health that I continue to work with my doctors to ensure my foot heals.”

606: DEBATE
There will be no legitimacy for other slam winners until they win a slam where a fit Williams is competing

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The 29-year-old American, who has not played competitively since winning a fourth Wimbledon crown in July, has also withdrawn from the Hopman Cup, which acts as a warm-up event for the year's opening Grand Slam event.

“The decision, though heavy on my heart, is the right one,” added five-time Australian Open champion Williams.

“I am praying for a healthy recovery and I promise my Aussie fans and my fans around the world that I will be back better than ever as soon as I can be.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said: “Serena is a great champion and we will miss her.

“We send her our very best wishes for a speedy recovery.”

The 2011 tournament begins on Monday 17 January.



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