Why Is Serena Williams Not Participating In The Tokyo Olympics?
Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams has confirmed that she will miss the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Speaking to reporters the day before the 2021 Wimbledon Championships, Williams said on Sunday,
“I’m not actually on the Olympic list … as far as I know. And if I am, I shouldn’t be on it.”
“There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision,” the 39-year-old American 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 (Olympics) been a wonderful place for me, but I really haven’t thought about it, so I’m going to keep not thinking about it.”
She did not say why she decided to forgo the postponed summer games.
The Olympic Games are due to begin on July 23, she has won four Olympic gold medals in her prestigious career, debuting at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Why? Lets Figure It Out
Williams, 39, won gold medals in singles and doubles in London in 2012, as well as gold medals in doubles in 2000 and 2008, all with her older sister, Venus.
She now has a daughter, Olympia, and previously said she didn’t want to be separated from her for three weeks during the Olympics.
It remains to be seen whether Olympic organizers will allow athletes to take young children with them to the Games.
“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question on its own,” Serena said.
“I wouldn’t be able to function if my three-year-old wasn’t around,” Williams said during the Australian Open. “I think I would have been depressed. We were together every day of her life.”
Serena is seeded No. 6 at Wimbledon and will play her first match Tuesday against Alexandra Sasnovich of Belarus.
Given her performances in the Olympics over the past two decades, Williams’ statement is precedent-setting, but it is not a surprise.
Due to COVID precautions, athletes are not allowed to bring their families to the games. Japan has also banned foreign spectators from attending the Olympics in another attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.
At the Italian Open in May, Williams said she would not compete in the Olympics if it meant separating from her three-year-old daughter (and aspiring tennis player) Olympia Ohanian.
“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her,” she said at the time, according to NBC, “so that kind of answers the question itself.”
Other athletes said they didn’t want to be separated from their children. Kim Gaucher, a basketball player for Team Canada, feels a disconnect between her Olympic dreams and motherhood.
“Right now I’m being forced to choose between being a nursing mom or being an Olympic athlete. I can’t have both,” Gaucher told CBC about her three-month-old daughter. Tokyo said: “No friends, no family, no exceptions.”
Marathoner Alifin Tuliamuk found herself in the same position and asked Tokyo Olympic organizers to allow her four-month-old baby to attend the Games. According to a Washington Post report, the U.S. team is allotted about 600 seats in total. If the baby comes, that means one less athlete, coach, or instructor.
Serena’s sister, Venus Williams has not confirmed her presence at the Summer Olympics, though she has previously expressed interest in participating. “I’m lucky enough to play again, it would be an amazing opportunity,” she told reporters in January 2020, calling the Olympics the “highlight” of her career.