It’s clear that Andy Murray and Serena Williams wanted to play the Australian Open, almost no matter the risk. That’s why they both traveled far and practiced hard, and that’s why they both waited until days before the tournament began to bow out.
In the end, the decisions make sense. Take Murray. The 30-year-old hadn’t played a tour level match since Wimbledon last year when he went down to Australia with hope that his exercises and training would heal his hip. When that didn’t work, he chose to have an operation in Australia with the goal of being healthy for Wimbledon this summer.
“I look forward to returning to competitive tennis during the grass court season,” Murray wrote on Facebook. “Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes and support over the last few days. I’ll come back from this.”
Murray said he believed he could get his body back up to 95 percent, which would be strong enough to win titles.
He also pointed out that rankings wouldn’t be as important to him anymore. He plans to play less often to maintain his health, like Roger Federer has done so successfully.
The decision was a tough one for Murray and he clearly fears for his future. But other players, like Lleyton Hewitt, have come back from this type of treatment. Few players work harder than Murray and he said he loves the game more now than ever before. At age 30, he should still have plenty of time to succeed.
Williams, who had her child in September, had difficult moments, too. She had instances of pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening artery and blood clot. Williams has suffered those before, and luckily knows well enough when she has the need for immediate treatment. She was bedridden for six weeks after giving birth.
“I’m not where I personally want to be,” Williams said in Snapchat. “My coach and team always said ‘only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way’. I can compete—but I don’t want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time.”
Even though she’s 36 years old, Williams sounds as ambitious as always—maybe even more so. She’s one Grand Slam singles title from tieing Margaret Court’s record of 24, and two away from passing Court.
By the time the French Open and Wimbledon come around, Williams could be a contender, even though she won’t have a ranking of any kind. That could end up worse for the rest of the field rather than for her - top-ranked players could face Williams in the first round.
If all goes well, both Murray and Williams will compete at Wimbledon, their best tournament. Murray has won two Wimbledon titles while Williams has won seven. In 2016, they both won—a feat they want to repeat in 2018.