Williams delays return

Former world No.1 Venus Williams has confirmed she will not take part in the Australian Open for health reasons.

Williams has not played a competitive match since pulling out of theĀ US Open in August after being diagnosed with auto-immune disease Sjorgen’s Syndrome.

But the 31-year-old, who was a finalist at the Australian Open in 2003, is confident she will return to action in February.

“I regret to announce that I am withdrawing from the 2012 Australian Open,” Williams said. “After several months of training and treatment, I am making steady progress to top competitive form.

“My diet and fitness regimen have allowed me to make great strides in terms of my health and I am very close to being ready to return to WTA competition.

“I have every intention to return to the circuit in February.”