Four-time Olympic champion Serena Williams could opt to miss out on the chance to add to her medal haul in Tokyo this summer. The 23-time Grand Slam winner would be one of the favourites to capture another gold medal to join her three doubles golds and one Olympic singles title if she went to Japan, but she has revealed that her participation is far from certain.
Currently, United States citizens are not permitted into Japan as part of the nation’s current COVID travel restrictions, though the regulations do include provision for special cases.
That loophole is set to allow Team USA into the Olympic bubble in Tokyo this summer, but that leniency is likely to be extended only to athletes and essential team personnel. Fans, for example, are not permitted to travel to the Games from the States under the current regulations.
Those restrictions could prove a determining factor in whether or not Williams will declare herself available for selection for Team USA this summer.
And with Williams taking her daughter, Olympia, on the road with her to tournaments, that could prove a potential sticking point ahead of the Games this summer.
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The schedule of the 2021 WTA calendar is also thought to be a big factor in her decision-making.
Traditionally, the Grand Slam tournaments run throughout the year are considered the most important events in the sport.
But, with the Olympics only coming around once every four years, some players place an additional premium on representing their countries and going for gold in the world’s biggest global sporting event.
But, with four gold medals already safely banked from her appearances in 2000 in Sydney, 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London, the lure of Olympic gold may not be as strong as it once was for the 39-year-old.
And, when you factor in her quest to equal, then surpass, Margaret Court’s long-standing record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, the possibility of Williams placing greater importance on the year’s Slams over the Olympic Games becomes all the more likely, especially with Williams currently standing on 23 Grand Slam titles, just one short of Court’s record.
The fact that the Olympics have been delayed by a year to be held in a packed schedule following a COVID-hit 2020 will also, she says, play into her final decision.
“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year,” she said.
“And then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.
“Then there is the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot.
“So I really have been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”