Family heartache behind Serena Williams' sad Olympics admission

Serena Williams, pictured here with daughter Alexis Olympia.
Serena Williams isn't keen on spending time away from daughter Alexis Olympia. Image: Getty

Serena Williams has raised doubts over her participation in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, especially if it means an extended period away from her daughter.

The 39-year-old returns to action this week at the Italian Open, having not played since the Australian Open in February.

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Speaking to reporters in Rome on Monday, the 23-time grand slam champion said she was unlikely to join Team USA at the Olympics in Japan, starting in July.

Williams said the prospect of spending time away from her young family wasn't particularly ideal.

"I haven't spent 24 hours without (daughter Alexis Olympia) so that kind of answers the question itself," said the American, who has won four Olympic gold medals, a record she shares with her sister Venus.

"I haven't really thought much about Tokyo, because 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.

"Then there are 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."

Williams has been stuck on 23 grand slam titles - one Margaret Court's all-time record - since winning the Australian Open in 2017 while pregnant with Alexis Olympia.

Since then she has given birth, returned to the tour, and finished runner-up at four major tournaments.

Serena Williams, pictured here with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Alexis Olympia in Adelaide in January.
Serena Williams with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Alexis Olympia in Adelaide in January. (Photo by BRENTON EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal joins stars in expressing concerns

On Tuesday, two-time Olympic champion Rafael Nadal became the latest top tennis player to admit that he had not yet decided whether he would participate in the Tokyo Games.

The 34-year-old won gold in the singles in Beijing in 2008, adding another gold in the doubles with Marc Lopez in Rio five years ago.

"In a normal world I would never consider missing the Olympics. There is no doubt about that," he said at a press conference ahead of his opening match at the Italian Open.

"Everybody knows how important the Olympics are for me.

"Under these circumstances, I don't know. Let's see what's going on in the next couple of months. But I need to organise my schedule.

"I don't know yet. Honestly I can't give you a clear answer because I don't know.

"In a normal year, I know my schedule almost 100 percent from January 1 until the end of the season. This year is a little bit different, no?

"We need to be flexible. We need to adapt to the things that are happening. I don't know, I can't give you an accurate answer. Sorry."

Japanese stars Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori have also raised concerns about whether Tokyo should be hosting the Games at all.

"I'm an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics," Osaka told the BBC.

"But as a human, I would say we're in a pandemic, and if people aren't healthy, and if they're not feeling safe, then it's definitely a really big cause for concern."

with agencies

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