The 24th edition of the Dubai Championships is set to commence on February 18th, where Kerber, a two-time semifinalist there, signed up to play in the main draw with a Special Ranking of World No. 31.
But the German has confirmed her absence from the tournament and will be replaced by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Kerber only recently returned to the tour after a maternity break since the second half of the 2022 season. She gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Liana, in February last year.
The three-time Grand Slam champion then spoke of her intention to rejoin the tour and launched her comeback at this year's United Cup. Kerber played an instrumental role in securing the title for her country, savoring her first singles win at the tournament until the semifinal stage.
The 36-year-old accumulated sufficient playing time at the mixed-team event but was defeated in the opening round of the Australian Open by former finalist Danielle Collins. It wasn't the happy return that she expected while playing in Melbourne, but the 2016 champion left Australia with happy memories.
Kerber then took a late wild card to play at the Linz Open, a tournament she had won in the past. But a lackluster performance in the first round resulted in a one-sided defeat against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti.
The German lefty has admitted that she travels with her daughter during tournaments and is currently balancing two disciplines. It's a challenge she relishes, and she hasn't placed so many expectations on herself on a tennis court.
Kerber has won pretty much everything there is to win as a pro. She was ranked World No. 1 for a total of 34 weeks and defeated legendary American Serena Williams in two of her three Grand Slam title matches.
Right now, however, her long-term future in the game remains unclear, and having skipped the entire Middle East swing, this might indicate a possible injury or that she intends to play a limited schedule in her comeback season.