Serena Williams is one of the most iconic female athletes in the United States and was formerly the world’s no.1 in the womens’ single tennis division. She’s also been ranked no.1 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017. It’s certainly no secret that Williams’ athletic prowess is second to none.
So why isn’t she going to the Tokyo Olympics?
When asked about participating in the Tokyo Olympics during the pre-Wimbledon press conference on Sunday, Williams made the announcement that she wasn’t planning on going.
”I’m actually not on the Olympic list.” Williams said, “Not that I’m aware of. And if so, then I shouldn’t be on it.”
When asked to explain her reasoning behind this somewhat-surprising decision, Williams chose not to give any comment on the situation. The media was also curious about whether the decision was based on Tokyo Games’ new restrictions, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regarding international visitors, which would include Williams’ three-year-old daughter Olympia, but Williams also neither confirmed or denied this.
“There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision.” she said, “I don’t feel like going into them today, but maybe another day.”
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still going fast and strong, the Summer Olympics are still scheduled to begin on July 23rd this year, and according to the Reuthers website, Japan has only been able to administer enough vaccines to cover about 14% of its population. Because of this, Japan has really had to crack down on restrictions regarding travel and crowds for this summer’s Games. However, many people, including Japan’s emperor, worry that the restrictions might not be quite enough, and that the Games could actually bring an increase in infection rates.
Japan has banned international spectators from its games but, as an Olympic official told USA Today, exceptions would be made on a case-to-case basis regarding the children of athletes. In May, a reporter actually asked Williams if she’d ever be willing to travel to Japan without her daughter.
”That’s actually a really good question,” Williams had said. “I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kinda answers the question itself. We’re best friends.”
There is a tad bit of disappointment in the air as Williams’ decision has been made final, and it’s understandable. Serena Williams is one of the best female tennis players, and athlete overall, of her generation. Not having her on the US team for the Tokyo Olympics could very well hurt America’s chances of taking home the gold.
However, this still remains to be seen. While it is understandable to be disappointed, it’s important for us to trust and support Williams’ decision. While she is an athlete, she’s also a mother, and a human being first and foremost, and as such, deserves the right to choose and make her own decisions, regardless of reason. The only thing left to do is show Williams the respect that she deserves and to let her live her life the way she chooses to live it.