Serena Williams is easily one of the greatest athletes of all time, and in serving double duty as one of the most decorated Olympians ever—her four medals (all gold) are eclipsed by only her sister Venus and Kathleen McKane Godfree, who each have five—it was a foregone conclusion that despite being 39 years old, she would extend her reign by competing in the upcoming Summer Olympics.
Sadly, that might not be the case.
With Tokyo declaring a state of emergency as COVID-19 infections within that region continue to skyrocket, as well as international visitors being prohibited from attending the Games—which also includes any family members of athletes—Yahoo reports that without being able to bring her three-year-old daughter Olympia along for the ride, Williams might opt to just stay home.
“I haven’t really thought much about that,” she said. “That’s a really good question. I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself. We’re best friends.”
She continued, “I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”
Considering the Olympics are less than three months away and less than 2 percent of the local population in Japan is fully vaccinated, it might not even be her decision to make. While the International Olympics Committee has reiterated its commitment to moving forward with the Games, Japanese government officials have admitted that there’s still a possibility they could be outright canceled.
“If it seems impossible to go on with the games, they must be definitely canceled,” Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, told the Associated Press in April. “If there is a surge in infections because of the Olympics, there will be no meaning to having the Olympics.”
Well, a surge in infections is exactly what’s happening right now in Tokyo, so only time will tell if we’ll still have the Summer Olympics. But for those eager to see Williams return to the court, look no further than the ongoing Italian Open. And to really raise the stakes, if the 23-time Grand Slam champion makes it to the quarter-finals, she could face off against another superstar who’s followed in her footsteps: Naomi Osaka.
In February, the two faced off in the Australian Open, with Osaka delivering a crushing 6-3, 6-4 defeat that brought Williams to tears in her post-game press conference. It also fueled speculation that her celebrated career was finally drawing to a close.
“I don’t know,” she told reporters after the match. “If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
Hopefully, Williams is able to take the court this summer in Tokyo. This pandemic is no joke, but there’s always hope that things will work out in her favor.