Venus Williams has pulled out of the Australian Open due to illness. She is now a doubt after withdrawing from the January ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand because of ongoing health issues.
The 31-year-old former world number one has been receiving treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome. The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, begins January 16.
“We are disappointed to have lost a player of her calibre,” said Auckland tournament director Richard Palmer. “While withdrawals of this nature are part and parcel of sport, we sincerely feel for the fans who will also be disappointed by the news of Venus’s withdrawal.”
The seven-time Grand Slam winner, who is currently ranked 103 in the world, had been handed a wildcard entry to the tournament after playing several exhibition matches in recent weeks. However, the competition’s website announced Williams had told her agent, Carlos Fleming, that she was not fit to take part despite recent exhibition match appearances. “Only last month she was reportedly saying she was looking forward to her first tournament of the year in Auckland and had heard great things about the ASB Classic,” added Palmer. “Her goal was to play a full schedule next year.”