Defending champion Serena Williams has pulled out of the Australian Open, claiming she is not at the level she needs to be to compete.

Williams withdraws from Australian Open

Williams withdraws from Australian Open

The 23-time Grand Slam champion gave birth to her first child in September but had still planned to participate in Melbourne in the hope of being crowned champion for the eighth time in her career.

However, after losing in an exhibition match to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko last week, the 36-year-old suggested she might not travel to Australia due to a lack of match sharpness.

Williams has now confirmed she will not compete at the Australian Open but hopes to make a full-time return to tennis in the not too distant future.

"My coach and team always said 'only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way'," she said.

"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.

"The memory of last year's Open is one that I will carry with me, and Olympia and I look forward to coming back again."

Williams is the latest big name to withdraw from the upcoming Australian Open with Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori having already pulled out on the men's side of the draw, while Rafael Nadal participation is in doubt.