Serena Williams comeback theory shot down as key detail comes to light

The 23-time grand slam champion has previously claimed that she's not actually retired from professional tennis.

Serena Williams, pictured here celebrating after winning the Australian Open in 2017.
Serena Williams celebrates after winning the Australian Open in 2017. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Leading tennis writer Ben Rothenberg has bad news for anyone buying into the claims that Serena Williams isn't actually retired from tennis. The American champion said she was 'evolving away from tennis' after the US Open last September, but refused to use the word 'retirement'.

She has since hinted that she's not finished with tennis and made staggering claims in October that she's not actually retired. But according to Rothenberg and the WTA tour, she is.

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Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, the American journalist smacked down the myth that Williams hasn't officially retired. As Rothenberg pointed out, Williams has removed herself from the ITIA's anti-doping testing pool and whereabouts program, and is no longer on the WTA rankings.

"I've gotten a lot of messages since Serena 'evolved' at the US Open asking about the likelihood of a comeback," he tweeted. "In September, Serena officially retired, removing herself from the ITIA's anti-doping testing pool and whereabouts program.

"By October, she'd also been removed from the WTA rankings. In order to return to tour, Serena (like any officially retired player) would need to re-enter the testing pool at least three months in advance of her return to competition. (You may recall this rule tripped up a planned Andy Roddick doubles cameo in 2014).

Speaking at a tech conference in October, the 41-year-old said “I am not retired. The chances [of me returning] are very high. You can come to my house and [see] I have a court."

She later mentioned Tom Brady's comeback to the NFL when asked if she could do a similar backflip, saying: "Tom Brady started an amazing trend. That's all I am going to say."

Then in November she posted a photo of a racquet and tennis court, writing: "I'm a little bored". It then emerged that Williams had been playing with sister Venus and Polish player Urszula Radwanska, sparking some speculation that she was training in preparation for a comeback - potentially at the Australian Open.

Venus Williams out of Australian Open with injury

But as we know we won't be seeing Williams at Melbourne Park, with the 23-time grand slam champion not in the draw. She will be joined on the sidelines by older sister Venus, who was forced to withdraw last week after sustaining an injury in Auckland.

The 42-year-old Venus had been granted a wildcard to play in the grand slam for what would have been the 22nd time, but suffered the injury in a lead-up event at the ASB Classic. Australia's Kim Birrell was granted a wildcard as a result of Williams' withdrawal.

Serena Williams, pictured here embracing Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open in 2021.
Serena Williams embraces Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open in 2021. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Venus has won seven grand slam singles titles, but never claimed the trophy at the Australian Open. She made the final at Melbourne Park twice, famously losing to Serena in the 2017 decider while Serena was pregnant. She also lost to her sister in the final in 2003.

Venus is now ranked 1003rd in the world and is surely on the verge of following Serena into retirement. She played just four singles matches in 2022 - all in the US last August - losing all four. She ended her season after losing to Alison van Uytvanck at the US Open, where she also lost in the doubles with Serena.

Her 2023 season started on a bright note when she beat fellow American Katie Volynets in Auckland. She then lost to China’s Zhu Lin in three sets in the second round.

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