Roger Federer and Serena Williams’ retirements have left a void and their absence is being felt at the 2023 Australian Open, according to former world No 1 John McEnroe.
Williams announced in August last year that she would “evolve away from tennis” after the US Open and not long after Federer confirmed that he would retire after the Laver Cup in September.
It brought the curtain down on the careers of two of tennis’ most illustrious players over the past three decades with Williams winning 23 Grand Slams and Federer notching up 20 majors with both setting numerous records along the way.
Although both also missed last year’s season-opening Grand Slam at Melbourne Park due to injury, this year’s tournament is the first major following their retirements.
And it is not just the two greats that were missing from this year’s Australian Open line-up as women’s defending champion Ashleigh Barty also didn’t feature as she retired in March last year while local hope Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the tournament due to a knee injury.
Asked about Federer and Williams’ absence on Eurosport, seven-time Grand Slam winner McEnroe replied: “Ask Australia’s Channel 9 if they are missing their presence!”
“Then you throw in the fact that Ash Barty retired, the reigning Australian Open champion. Nick Kyrgios is injured and didn’t even play at the event.
“So the answer is an obvious ‘yes!’ – you miss these GOATs, the greatest of all time.
“Class act, Roger Federer. Serena Williams – people look at tennis in a different way after all that she has accomplished.
“So of course, they are missed. How can you possibly gauge how much they are missed? We don’t even know. It is a question we don’t know the answer to, but we were lucky that last year [Carlos] Alcaraz filled the vacuum at the US Open to a fairly large degree.
“There were a couple of incredible matches. Serena had that final run, so that was really great, but the truth is, you need stories.”
This year’s Australian Open was also hit by the early exits of top two seeds in both men’s and women’s draws as Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, Casper Ruud and Ons Jabeur failed to reach the second week of the first Grand Slam of the year.
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