Defending champ Serena Williams withdraws from Aussie Open

Serena Williams announced her withdrawal from the Australian Open on Thursday, saying she is not ready to return to tournament tennis.

Williams was pregnant with her first child when she beat her sister, Venus, to win last year's tournament at Melbourne Park, the 23rd Grand Slam singles title of her career.

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Serena Williams gave birth to her daughter, Alexis, in September. She competed in an exhibition tournament last week in Abu Dhabi, losing to Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 3-6, 10-5.

"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 released Thursday by Australian Open organizers.

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Serena Williams returns to the court
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Serena Williams returns to the court
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States plays a backhand during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States plays a forehand during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States looks on during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States serves against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States plays a forehand against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States smiles during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States looks dejected during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States plays a backhand during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia plays a forehand against Serena Williams of United States during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia plays a forehand against Serena Williams of United States during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia smiles during her Ladies Final match against Serena Williams of United States on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia plays a forehand against Serena Williams of United States during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
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"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.

"With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I've decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year."

Earlier Thursday, Andy Murray withdrew from the Australian Open because of the lingering hip injury that has sidelined him since last year's Wimbledon. Likewise, Novak Djokovic's status for the tournament remains unclear, as he continues battle back from pain in his right elbow, which has sidelined him since Wimbledon as well.

25 PHOTOS
Venus and Serena Williams through the years
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Venus and Serena Williams through the years
Venus Williams (L) and her sister Serena of the U.S. celebrate their victory in the doubles finals against Mariaan de Swardt of South Africa and Elena Tatarkova of the Ukraine at the European indoor championships in Kloten October 18. The Williams sisters won 5-7 6-1 6-3. MUE/MR/AA
Serena Williams (back) goes after a second set shot from her sister Venus Williams March 28 in the final match at the Lipton Championships. Venus defeated Serena 6-1 4-6 6-4 to take the title. CB/ELD/CLH/
Serena Williams from the United States (R) holds the Grand Slam Cup trophy after the final match against her sister Venus at the Grand Slam Cup in Munich, October 3. Serena won the match 6-1 3-6 6-4. MAD/ME
USA'S Serena Williams (L) and sister Venus practice for the Olympic Games in Sydney, September 21, 2000. The Williams sisters are competing for the United States in the Games of the XXVII Olympiad. MBAZ/HB
Venus Williams (R) embraces her sister Serena Williams after she won the women's final at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship in New York September 8, 2001. Venus Williams won 6-2 6-4 in a sixty-nine minute match, repeating her final's win from last year. Tonight's final is the first Grand Slam final contested by sisters since Maud Watson beat Lilian Watson 117 years ago in the first Wimbledon women's final in 1884. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn JP
Venus (R) and Serena Williams of the U.S. confer during their women's doubles match [against Slovenia's Tina Krizan and Katarina Srebotnik] at the Wimbledon tennis championships, July 5, 2002. The Williams sisters won 6-2 6-0.
Serena Williams of the United States returns to her sister [Venus] during the women's final at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 7, 2002.
Serena Williams of the United States (L) is greeted at the net by her sister Venus following the women's final at the U.S. Open in Flushing, New York, September 7, 2002. Serena won the match 6-4 6-3 to capture the U.S. Open title. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine SB
Venus (R) and Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. play third round women's doubles against Russia's Elena Dementieva and Lina Krasnoroutskaya at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 1, 2003. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi AB/ASA
U.S tennis players Serena (L) and Venus Williams smile during a children's tennis practice session on court at Wimbledon in south west london, June 17, 2004. The Wimbledon championships begin on June 21. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty KD/AA
Serena Williams reacts after a missed point against sister [Venus] in their fourth round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 4, 2005. [Venus] defeated Serena 7-6 6-2.
Venus Williams of the U.S hits a return to sister Serena Williams during their fourth round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 4, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Segar JA/mk
Serena (L) and Venus Williams of the U.S. reach for the ball during their semi-finals doubles match against Nathalie Dechy of France and Casey Dellacqua of Australia at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 4, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN)
Gold medallists Serena (R) and Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrate on the podium after the women's doubles tennis competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 17, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville (CHINA)
Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. and her sister Venus talk, after winning their women's doubles final match against Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova and Japan's Ai Sugiyama, at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2009. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (AUSTRALIA)
Serena Williams of the U.S. serves the ball to sister and compatriot Venus Williams during their semi-final match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Venus Williams of the U.S. serves the ball to sister and compatriot Serena Williams during their semi-final match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Venus Williams of the U.S. (L) and Serena Williams of the U.S. pose for a photograph before their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN SPORT TENNIS)
Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. grimaces after being hit by a serve from her sister Venus during their doubles match against Julia Goerges of Germany and Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York September 3, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES SPORT TENNIS)
Sisters Serena Williams (R) and Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrate after defeating Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the women's doubles tennis gold medal match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TENNIS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
U.S tennis players Serena Williams (L) and Venus Williams look on during a news conference in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos October 31, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Venus Williams (top) serves as she and her sister Serena of the U.S. play doubles against compatriots Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York August 31, 2013. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 6/7/15 Women's Singles - USA's Serena Williams and USA's Venus Williams embrace after their fourth round match Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Serena Williams of the U.S. follows the flight of the ball as she falls on a return shot to her sister and compatriot Venus Williams during their quarterfinals match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, September 8, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 9/7/16 USA's Serena Williams and Venus Williams celebrate winning their womens doubles final against Hungary's Timea Babos and Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova with the trophies REUTERS/Tony O'Brien
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