World number one Serena Williams has announced that she won’t be competing at the Premier 5 China Open next week and she won’t be defending the year-end WTA Finals title in Singapore later this month.
“It’s no secret I’ve played injured most of the year — whether it was my elbow, my knee, or, in the finals moments after a certain match in Flushing, my heart,” Williams said in an article posted at the China Open website. She was referring to her most recent loss at the US Open where she was ousted in the semifinal by Roberta Vinci and ended her run to achieve a rare calendar-year Grand Slam. The last female player to achieve this feat was Steffi Graf back in 1988.
“I’m a fierce competitor,” she said. “And I want to compete as well as I can, for as long as I can. So I am taking a proactive step and withdrawing from tournaments in Beijing and Singapore to properly address my health and take the time to heal.”
Williams is a two-time champion in Beijing. She won the first title back in 2004 (defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova) and the second one in 2013 (defeated Jelena Jankovic).
“This is a very difficult decision, but one ultimately made because of the love of the game. I plan to return to practicing and participating in exhibition matches later this year. And when I do, l will focus and focus and focus so I can continue my journey in this beautiful game.”
Arthur Ashe once said, ‘Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome. My journey in tennis this year has been at times exhilarating, at times disappointing, but in every case, in victory and defeat, it has been extremely rewarding,” Serena explained, adding that five titles, including three of the four Grand Slams, are a testament to both her development and the support that boosts her success.
“I’ve grown more this year than perhaps at any other point in my career. The tennis family, and our fans, have embraced and supported me in ways I never imagined. I am grateful beyond words.
“I love this game more than ever. I hold deep respect for all those who have graced our courts. I’ve been privileged to be one of the few to understand their struggles and their triumphs.”
Williams already secured the year-end world number one ranking and her withdrawal means Simona Halep of Romania could secure the top seeding in Beijing and Singapore.