Serena Williams Out of 2022 Australian Open; Djokovic, Nadal Listed Among Entries

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 8, 2021

FILE - Serena Williams of the US plays Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus for the women's singles first round match on day two of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday June 29, 2021. Williams added herself to the list of big-name withdrawals from the U.S. Open on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 pulling out of the year’s last Grand Slam tournament because of a torn hamstring. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file)
AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file

Serena Williams announced Wednesday she'll miss the 2022 Australian Open in January while continuing to recover from a hamstring injury that's sidelined her since late June.

#AusOpen @AustralianOpen

All our love, <a href="https://twitter.com/serenawilliams?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@serenawilliams</a> 💙<br><br>Come back stronger 💪 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/HrrG1FFILF">pic.twitter.com/HrrG1FFILF</a>

The Associated Press noted Novak Djokovic was listed among the confirmed players for the men's tournament following questions about whether he'd met the event's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Other notable players on the entry list include Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev and Ash Barty. Roger Federer will miss the season's first major while recovering from his latest knee surgery.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley said in November he'd received a commitment from Williams to help headline the women's draw. It's unclear whether she suffered a setback or simply didn't make as much progress as expected with her recovery.

The 40-year-old Michigan native was injured during her first-round match at Wimbledon in June and didn't play for the remainder of the 2021 WTA Tour season.

She reached the semifinals of the 2021 Australian Open, which matched her deepest run at a Grand Slam event since an appearance in the 2019 U.S. Open final. She hasn't captured a major title since winning the 2017 Australian Open.

Williams' 23 Grand Slam titles put her one behind Margaret Court for the most in tennis history. Her quest to tie the record will have to wait until at least the French Open in May.

Meanwhile, Djokovic remained quiet about his vaccination status. That created some unusual drama surrounding the announcement of the draw list, which is a typically mundane event.

The top-ranked player's father, Srdjan Djokovic, told Serbia's TV Prva (h/t BBC Sport) he didn't expect his son to play in the Australian Open because of the vaccine mandate.

"Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won't [play]," the elder Djokovic said last week. "I wouldn't do that. And he's my son, so you decide for yourself."

Djokovic could still withdraw from the tournament, but it appears he's prepared to meet Australia's vaccine requirement since he's also slated to play in January's ATP Cup in Sydney.

The 2022 Australian Open is scheduled to begin Jan. 17 at Melbourne Park.