As Williams confirmed his absence, the Australian Open said Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 men’s singles player, was registered for the event, which is set to start on January 17 in Melbourne.
The Victoria state government requires all players to be fully vaccinated to compete, and Djokovic has refused in recent weeks to reveal his vaccination status or confirm whether he will play at the Australian Open, where he has won nine singles titles. But he is on the entry list, only a week after his father denounced the vaccination requirement as “this blackmail and condition” and suggested his son would not play.
Williams said she was “excited to come back and compete at my top level,” but it’s unclear when or if she will be able to achieve that goal.
Williams, ranked 41st, hasn’t won a Grand Slam singles title in nearly five years: she won the Australian Open in January 2017 when she was two months pregnant with her daughter, Olympia. She returned to the tour in 2018 after the birth of Olympia and remarkably reached the singles finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and again in 2019.