Serena Williams will not be attempting to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles at the US Open next week, after announcing her withdrawal from the last major of the year.
After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring. Serena Williams
Williams also withdrew from last week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
The 6-time US Open champion has pulled out due to a torn hamstring, saying on social media: “After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring.
“New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world and one of my favourite places to play – I’ll miss seeing the fans but will be cheering everyone on from afar. Thank you for your continued support and love. I’ll see you soon.”
Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, also put up a post on social media, saying: “We’ve done everything we could. It is heartbreaking, but this is the only possible decision.”
The 39-year old, who sustained the hamstring injury at Wimbledon this year, and was forced to retire midway through the first set in her opening match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, has not competed since early July, missing the Olympics in Tokyo.
The American former World No 1 won her first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows in 1999 as a 17-year-old, and went on to be crowned champion in 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014, equalling an Open Era record with Chris Evert.
Williams, who is currently ranked 22, has played just 6 tournaments this year, and made the semi-finals at the Yarra Valley Classic and Australian Open, as well as a 4th-round showing at Roland Garros.
Her last major title came at the 2017 Australian Open, nearly 4 years ago, when she was pregnant with her daughter Olympia.
Since then, she is 0-4 in major finals, including falling in the US Open final in 2018 to Naomi Osaka, and to Bianca Andreescu a year later.
Last year, she reached the semi-finals in New York before falling to Victoria Azarenka.
Williams is the latest high-profile player to miss the event after defending men’s champion Dominic Thiem ruled himself out, along with Roger Federer, absent because of his knee issues and Rafael Nadal with an on-going foot problem.
This will be the first major tournament since 1997 without any of Serena Williams, Federer or Nadal in the singles draws.
Williams made her Grand Slam debut at the 1998 Australian Open, while Federer made his the following yea and Nadal in 2003 and, between them, they hold a combined 63 major singles titles.
Williams, who turns 40 on 26 September, cannot now compete in another major until at the Australian Open next January.
The US Open draw will be made on Thursday, 26 August.
Meanwhile, in the women’s qualifying competition, the women’s Top 10 seeds came through on Tuesday, led by former World No 26 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.
Schmiedlova, 26, who has been plagued with injuries since reaching that career-high ranking in 2015, overcame France’s Tessah Andrianjafitrimo, 6-3 4-6 6-4, in a 3-hour battle during the heat of the afternoon. In an intriguing Round 2 matchup, she next faces 2018 quarter-finalist Lesia Tsurenko, who beat Aussie Ellen Perez, 7-5 7-6(2).
Tsurenko, a former World No 23, has struggled with an elbow injury for much of the last 3 years since reaching the last 8 in New York in 2018, where she was beaten by Naomi Osaka on her way to her first major title.
Also needing 3 sets, and two-and-a-half-hours, to advance was Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse, seeded 7.
The 23-year-old from Bucharest had a strong post-Wimbledon campaign on clay in July, winning her first career WTA title in Hamburg, and later finishing as the runner-up in Palermo, Italy.
She was pushed all the way by Veronica Cepede Royg, notably the flag-bearer for Paraguay during last month’s Tokyo Olympics, who led by a break in the decider.
From 3-1 down, Ruse reeled off 5 games in a row to take the victory.
Advancing in straight-sets were No 3 seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain, who toughed out a tight opener before cruising past Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia, 7-6(4) 6-1, and 10th-seeded Aussie Astra Sharma, who overcame Slovak Viktoria Kuzmova, 7-5 7-6(5).
Britain’s Samantha Murray Sharan got past Richel Hogenkamp from the Netherlands, 6-2 3-6 7-5, while Fran Jones took out American wild card Elizabeth Mandlik, the daughter of Hana Mandlikova, 3-6 6-0 6-3.
Emma Raducanu plays her opening qualifying match on Wednesday against another Dutchwoman, Bibiane Schoofs, who is ranked 283..
The British teenager has learnt plenty since her adventures at Wimbledon where she reached the 4th round and retired in her match last-16 match with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic with breathing difficulties.
“I think the biggest learning was how physically behind I am because I haven’t done much work, relative to these other girls who have been on the Tour for 10 years and competing,” Raducanu is quoted by The Metro as having said in a Zoom call from New York on Wednesday night.
“To be playing the intensity that I was at for a couple weeks in a row was something completely new to me.”
Raducanu has since put her exams behind her and been competing full time, beaten at a WTA event in San Jose by Chinese veteran Zhang Shuai before dropping down a level in Pennsylvania, where she made a solid run from qualifying to the quarter-finals, and then Chicago where she upset top seed Alison van Uytvanck en route to the final.
There she was beaten in 3 sets by fellow 18-year-old Clara Tauson, but improved her ranking 150 in the world, which earned her a No 31 seeding in US Open qualifying.
“I’ve honestly loved it,” added Raducanu. “I think that this has been the longest trip I’ve ever done.”