SINGAPORE - American tennis star Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Finals in Singapore for the second year in a row, citing a right shoulder injury that has troubled her for the later half of this season.
The world No. 2's withdrawal from the US$7 million (S$9.74 million) tournament also means that German ace Angelique Kerber is assured of finishing the year as world No. 1.
Williams broke the news via a video message released on Monday (Oct 17). The 35-year-old said: "I'm really bombed that I wouldn't be able to come and compete this year. It's been a really tough year for me, just dealing so much with the shoulder injury.
"My doctors insist that I stay home and heal it every single day and do different treatments every day, so that I can have a chance to play next year and hopefully make it to Singapore next year.
"I think that will be my biggest goal. I had so much fun there, and I only have wonderful memories of playing in Singapore.I will really miss my fans, most of all, and just the atmosphere of being there.
"I wish everyone a great time, I know it's going to be an amazing tournament. I really hope and look forward to seeing everyone next year."
With Williams' withdrawal, another slot has opened up for the elite eight tournament, featuring the eight best-performing singles and doubles pairs of this year.
Briton Johanna Konta, Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova and Spanish player Carla Saurez Navarro are contenders for the ninth spot in the Race to Singapore leaderboard.
They will be looking to join Kerber, Simona Halep, defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza, Dominika Cibulkova and Madison Keys for the Oct 23-30 season finale event presented by SC Global at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Kerber, who dethroned Williams' record-equalling 186-week reign at the top of the WTA rankings last month, will finish as the year-end No. 1 for the first time. The last German to finish the year as world No. 1 was Kerber's idol Steffi Graf in 1996.
Williams has ended her season playing in just eight tournaments this year, including all four Grand Slams and the Olympic Games. She won her 22nd Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and reached the final of the Australian Open and French Open.
Kerber has enjoyed a breakthrough season this year. The 28-year-old started the year ranked 10th but became the oldest player to make her debut as world No. 1.
She beat Williams to win her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January and added a second Major at the US Open last month.