Serena Williams’ recurring back injury has forced her to withdraw from the Cincinnati Masters. The 23-time Grand Slam champion had hoped to be ready to face Zarina Diyas in the first round on Tuesday but abandoned that plan at the last minute.
During last weekend’s Rogers Cup final, Williams was left in tears because of back spasms and retired in the first set to hand the title to Canadian Bianca Andreescu. The 37-year-old American has had to retire or withdraw from all five of her non-Grand Slam events this year so far, much to her continued disappointment.
“I came to Mason [Ohio] on Sunday and have tried everything to be ready to play tonight, and was still hopeful after my practice this morning,” Williams said in a statement.
“But unfortunately my back is still not right.” There are now less two weeks before the start of the US Open, where Williams will be chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows, should fitness allow.
Williams has been stuck on 23 Grand Slam wins since landing the 2017 Australian Open in Melbourne. She has been beaten in back-to-back Wimbledon finals and also last year’s decider in New York to Naomi Osaka, a match infamously remember for Williams’ stunning outburst at chair umpire Carlos Ramos.
After suffering three code violations, Williams labelled the official a “thief”, with her outbursts threatening to overshadow the stunning success of the 20-year-old Japanese.
Williams remains favourite at 6.00 to win the US Open, with Osaka 9.00 and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep 7.50.