Serena Williams pulled out from her first tournament since October on Friday because of a shoulder injury. The announcement came hours after she qualified to play a semifinal match in an Australian Open tune-up.
The Yarra Valley Classic is one of six tournaments at Melbourne Park this week that professional tennis players are using to warm up prior to the first major tournament of the year. Williams doesn't usually participate in such events, but changed that habit recently with all of the interruptions that the coronavirus pandemic caused in tournaments, stretching from last year's U.S. Open to the upcoming Australian Open.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion's last major tournament was the French Open in October, which she had to back out of because of an Achilles injury in the second round.
She beat Danielle Collins on Friday 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 and seemed to be looking forward to the next round of the tune-up in her postgame press conference because she was facing global No. 1 Ash Barty, as the Associated Press reports.
"It's definitely a good opportunity to see where I'm going against the current No. 1, that's really important for me," Williams said. "Obviously I think for her, as well, to see where she's going against my game.
"It's been a long 12 months. Tennis has been played but not really, so ... hopefully this is like a new year where things will be different."
Should this injury not hamper Williams's ability to participate in the Australian Open, she'll be seeking her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne since 2017, when she defeated her sister, Venus.