Serena Williams’ coach has backed her decision to miss the Australian Open after admitting she wasn’t yet ready to compete.
Williams announced on Friday that she would not be defending her title in Melbourne after realising she wasn’t up to speed physically in an exhibition encounter in Abu Dhabi last week.
The 36-year-old only gave birth to a baby girl in September and was unable to practice for two months afterwards due to medical reasons.
Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, says that left Williams with insufficient time to prepare for the Australian Open, with the 23-time Grand Slam champion expected to compete at Indian Wells and Miami, in March.
“It’s never an easy decision to skip a Grand Slam, I guess for any professional, and for sure for Serena,” Mouratoglou told ESPN.
“But I would rather say it is a wise decision. It’s not an easy decision, but it’s the best, wise one.
“The thing is, when she gave birth, things didn’t go as smooth as she expected.
“She had some complications – I mean, the baby was perfect, but she had some issues afterwards – and these medical issues delayed the moment that she could come back to practice.
“I could see that those two months were missing. Those two months she could not practice after giving birth. So, I knew she was late, but with her, you never know, so we did the job, and then her idea was to do one match and see exactly where she was.
“It is better to take a bit more time, and when you come back to the competition, you are ready to be yourself – win or lose is another thing – but at least be yourself and be at the top of what you can do.”