Asked if she will play the Tokyo Olympics, Serena Williams said she’s “not on the Olympic list,” and if for some reason she is, she shouldn’t be.
Williams didn’t explicitly say that she will not play the Tokyo Games, but said she will not be thinking about them going forward.
“There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision,” Williams said at her pre-Wimbledon news conference on Sunday, “and I don’t feel like going into them today, but maybe another day.”
Williams is seeded sixth at Wimbledon but higher up the favorites list at a tournament that she has won seven times. Williams made the final at her last four Wimbledon appearances, taking runner-up at the last two. Two of the world’s top three players — Naomi Osaka and injured defending champion Simona Halep — are not in the field.
“The women’s draw is so deep, regardless to who you play,” Williams said. “You really have to show up now. There’s no longer matches that are going to be a sure walk-through.”
She takes another shot at winning a 24th Grand Slam singles title, and her first as a mom, to tie Margaret Court‘s record (although some of Court’s wins came before the Open Era and against fields not including the world’s best players).
Williams played at the Olympics in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2016, winning four gold medals between singles and doubles. She missed the 2004 Athens Games due to a knee injury.
Last month, Williams was asked if she would go to the Olympics if it meant being separated from her 3-year-old daughter, Olympia.
“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself,” she said then.
Organizers and Japanese officials have not said what possible exceptions will be made for athletes wanting their young children to Tokyo. International spectators will not be allowed in venues.
Currently, the U.S. is one of 159 countries or regions from which people are “subject to denial of permission to entry,” though exceptions are allowed (and will be for Olympic athletes and officials).
Overall, Williams said in May that she had not put much thought into the Tokyo Olympics, which open July 23.
“It was supposed to be last year, and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic, and there is so much to think about,” she said. “Then there is the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”
If Williams is not on the U.S. Olympic team, then Jessica Pegula is in line to take her spot in singles. Sofia Kenin, Jennifer Brady and Coco Gauff are the other U.S. women’s singles players and said this spring that they plan to play.
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