AceShowbiz - Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams have withdrawn from the 111th Australian Open. While the Japanese tennis player was out of this year's event for undisclosed reasons, the latter pulled the pin due to injury.
Organizers broke the news on Saturday, January 7 via Twitter. Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Australian Open. We will miss her at #AO2023," so read the announcement. It remains unclear why Naomi left the entry list for the Australian Open. She, however, had taken a break to prioritize her mental health after skipping the 2021 French Open.
Hours prior to that, the organizers declared in a different post, "Venus Williams has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to an injury sustained at the ASB Classic in New Zealand." They added, "Australia's Kim Birrell will be awarded her wildcard place."
The two's withdrawals came after men's singles No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz announced his own exit. "When I was at my best in preseason, I picked up an injury through a chance, unnatural movement in training," the Spanish athlete tweeted. "This time it's the semimembranosus muscle in my right leg."
"I'd worked so hard to get to my best level for Australia but unfortunately I won't be able to play the Care A2+ Kooyong or the Australian Open," the 19-year-old further noted. "It's tough, but I have to be optimistic, recover and look forward. See you in 2024 @AustralianOpen."
Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, will return to the Australian Open after being deported from the country in 2022 for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The nine-time champion and a 21-time Grand Slam title winner will move into the top four seedings.
The tournament will start on Monday, January 16 at Melbourne Park. It will run through Sunday, January 29.