World number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from next week’s Madrid Open, leaving Agnieszka Radwanska as the top seed in the clay-court event.
“Unfortunately, I have to withdraw from Madrid because I’ve been battling the flu and I’m not at 100 per cent. I look forward to returning soon,” Williams revealed in a statement published on the tournament’s website
Williams has taken part in only three tournaments in 2016 and hasn’t won a title yet. She lost in the final of the Australian Open and at Indian Wells before exiting the Miami Open in the fourth round.
Having come so close to winning the calendar year Grand Slam in 2015, the 34-year-old’s powers are seemingly on the wane, although the American still has a substantial lead at the top of the WTA ranking.
Should Williams miss the tournament in Rome in a fortnight’s time as well, she will go into the French Open at the end of May having not played a single clay-court event in nearly 12 months.
Radwanska, meanwhile, will take on former Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in the first round, following Friday’s draw.
Reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, the second seed, will take on 33-ranked Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic.
Local favourite and third seed Garbine Muguruza faces Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round and may come up against sixth seed Simona Halep, who takes on Japan’s Misaki Doi in her first round match.
Fifth seed and defending champion Petra Kvitova, who beat Williams in the semi-finals in Madrid in 2015, takes on unheralded Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena.