Serena Williams has ruled herself out of the 2022 Australian Open through injury, while Novak Djokovic has been placed on the entry list despite ongoing uncertainty around his vaccination status.
Williams, a seven-time winner at Melbourne Park, revealed that she was not fit to compete at the first Grand Slam of the upcoming season.
“While this is never an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete,” she said.
“I will miss seeing the fans, but am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”
World No. 1 Djokovic, meanwhile, has still so far refused to confirm whether or not he has been vaccinated for Covid-19, even though he has now made the entry lists for both the ATP Cup and the Australian Open.
The clear position from Tennis Australia remains that all players must adhere to local authority rules and it has denied applying for an exemption to Victoria’s state protocols on behalf of the 34-year-old.
“All players, patrons and staff at the Australian Open have to be vaccinated,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.
“Any suggestion that Tennis Australia is seeking ‘loopholes’ within this process is simply untrue.”
Victoria’s Deputy Premier James Merlino added: “Medical exemptions are just that – it’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players.”
The Australian Open gets underway on January 14, but Djokovic has also been named in Serbia’s team for the ATP Cup, which takes place in Sydney from January 1-9.
The ATP Cup’s organisers have confirmed Djokovic’s attendance, saying on the ATP Tour website: “Top seed Serbia, headlined by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, will lead Group A.”
An ATP press release added: “World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev are the top-ranked singles players for Serbia and defending champions Russia respectively.”