Serena Williams, Andy Murray Withdraw From Australian Open

Posted on: January 5, 2018, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: January 5, 2018, 05:53h.

The Australian Open is looking less like a Grand Slam event after losing tennis stars Serena Williams and Andy Murray this week. Murray told tournament organizers on Wednesday he couldn’t play because of a lingering injury.

Serena Williams and Andy Murray
Serena Williams and Andy Murray both withdrew from the Jan. 15 Australian Open. (Image: Getty Images)

“Sadly I won’t be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete,” Murray said in a statement. “I’ll be flying home shortly to assess all the options but I appreciate all the messages of support and I hope to be back playing soon.”

Williams followed a day later, withdrawing from the prestigious event, saying she wasn’t tournament ready and was still getting her game together after giving birth to her daughter Olympia in September.

“After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be,” Williams said in a statement. “My coach and team always said, ‘Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.’ I can compete – but I don’t want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time,” she said in a statement.

Other Factors Influencing Odds

Williams was the defending champion after defeating her sister Venus last year while she was two months pregnant. She was a 40-1 pick to repeat this year, far behind favorites Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza, who are at 6-1. Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep are next at 15-2.

Venus Williams is listed at 22-1 and is coming off a trying year for the 37 year old. She attained her highest ranking (No. 5) since 2010 but failed to win a title. She was also embroiled in a controversy involving an automobile accident when her car was hit by another vehicle.

The passenger in that car ultimately died of his injuries. Williams was cleared in December of any wrongdoing in the accident but a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family is ongoing.

Murray wasn’t expected to play because of a lingering hip injury and wasn’t on the betting board. Last year he was one of the favorites to win at plus-150, but was upset by Germany’s Mischa Zverev in the fourth round. He has three grand slam titles but has never won the Australian.

With Murray out Roger Federer is the 15-8 favorite, with Rafael Nadal at 4-1 and Novak Djokovic at 5-1.

When They Might Return

It appears Serena Williams will be on a tennis court sooner than Murray. It is expected she will play next month and prepare for the next Grand Slam event, which is the French Open in May.

Murray’s season appears to be finished, to the disappointment of his fans. He is pondering hip surgery and returned to the UK to assess his options. He has not played in a competitive event since July.

“Surgery is also an option but the chances of a successful outcome are not as high as I would like which has made this my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that,” he said in a statement. “However this is something I may have to consider but let’s hope not.”