The list of high-profile withdrawals ahead of the year’s final Grand Slam continues, with Venus and younger sister Serena Williams revealing they won’t feature at Flushing Meadows. After news of Roger Federer (knee) and Rafael Nadal (foot) shutting down their 2021 seasons in the last fortnight, this will be the first Slam tournament without the latter trio playing since 1997.
Venus announces she’s still struggling with leg injury
Having sustained her latest injury in the first-round at Wimbledon, it was always going to be a tight turnaround for Serena Williams. Her Instagram update post felt jarring but inevitable, given she hasn’t featured since that freak incident despite quietly recovering behind-the-scenes.
However, there was still quiet optimism from fans that her older sister Venus would feature in some capacity next week, especially after being granted a wildcard into the main draw.
Not anymore. The 41-year-old, a seven-time Grand Slam champion and twice at her home Slam tournament (2000, 2001), posted a video on social media revealing her recent injury struggles.
“It’s super, super, super disappointing. I’m having some issues with my leg all this summer, and just couldn’t work through it.
I tried my best here in Chicago, but just was unable to figure out the equation and there’s been so many times where I’ve been able to, even not in the best of my health, but this time, couldn’t make any miracles work.”
- Venus Williams on her leg injury, via her social media accounts
It’s the first time she’s withdrawn from the US Open since 2006, ending a streak of 31 consecutive Major entries – dating back to Wimbledon 2013, where she withdrew with a lingering back injury.
Venus, currently ranked world no. 147, had her wildcard berth upgraded to direct entry instead after Kirsten Flipkens’ withdrawal, another experienced veteran player enduring injury struggles.
Her first match since losing to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur on June 30, was a comprehensive 6-2, 6-3 defeat by Australian Open quarterfinalist Su-Wei Hsieh in the early hours Tuesday (UK time).
She’s not the only Major champion over the last 24 hours to withdraw, either…
Sofia Kenin positive for COVID-19, to return in the fall months
2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin has also taken to social media, confirming her withdrawal in the last few hours, after testing positive for COVID-19. This latest update compounds what has been a difficult 2021 for the 22-year-old, both on and off-the-court.
A look at Kenin’s rough 2021
She was upset by Australian wildcard Olivia Gadecki in three sets at the Phillip Island Trophy, a tournament predominantly packed with those who lost early in Melbourne the previous week.
Gadecki, ranked world no.988 at the time (now #324), inflicted the American’s worst defeat by ranking on Tour and if not for COVID-enforced changes to the rankings, would’ve slipped to world no. 13 as a result. Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina will overtake her into #5 ranking slot this week.
Kenin underwent emergency appendix surgery that same month after feeling abdominal pain, before returning over a month later to more premature defeats in Charleston and Stuttgart.
She would’ve liked to better her runners-up trophy in Paris last year, but came unstuck again against a familiar face. Sakkari beat her for the second time in six months to reach a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final – that was a vastly different story (6-1, 6-3) from their previous meeting.
Having parted ways with her father as a coach, an injury meant she didn’t play any warm-up events before Wimbledon. After beating Chinese qualifier Xinyu Wang in R1, she set a new unwanted record vs. Madison Brengle: 41 unforced errors in 45 minutes, losing with a whimper.
That was her most recent singles match, and now she’s sidelined again.
The brackets for both the men and women’s singles draws are set to be released sometime today. Kenin, the Williams sisters and 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic (right leg) will be replaced by players who lose in qualifying rounds this week, per the US Tennis Association.
Picture source: Getty Images