Serena Williams joins growing list of tennis stars to skip Tokyo Olympics

Serena Williams will not be travelling to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, the 23-times grand slam singles tennis champion said on Sunday, albeit without giving the reasons behind her decision.

Williams, who will turn 40 in September, won the singles title at the London Olympics in 2012 and she has also picked up three gold medals in doubles with sister Venus – in Sydney (2000), Beijing (2008) and London.

“Yeah, I’m actually not on the Olympic list, so … Not that I’m aware of. If so, then I shouldn’t be on it,” Williams told reporters on the eve of Wimbledon.

Top men’s players like Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have also opted to skip the Tokyo Games, which start on 23 July. Roger Federer, a 20-times major winner who also turns 40 in August, said he would like to go to the Olympics but will make a final call after Wimbledon.

There are persistent worries among the general public and medical experts in Japan that the world’s largest sporting event, which was delayed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, could trigger a new wave of infections. Organisers have barred family members of athletes from attending the Games due to safety protocols, while foreign spectators are also excluded and domestic crowds will be allowed in restricted numbers.

The restrictions on international arrivals would have separated Williams from her daughter Alexis Olympia, who was born in 2017. “There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision,” Williams said. “I don’t really want to … I don’t feel like going into them today. Maybe another day. Sorry. In the past it’s been a wonderful place for me. I really haven’t thought about it, so I’m going to keep not thinking about it.”