Tennis: Barty, Venus, Kerber exit WTA Montreal event, Halep enters

Romania's Simona Halep in action during the Madrid Open in May 2021.
Romania's Simona Halep in action during the Madrid Open in May 2021.PHOTO: AFP

MONTREAL (AFP) - World number one Ashleigh Barty, Angelique Kerber and US star Venus Williams have withdrawn from next month's WTA Montreal tournament, Tennis Canada announced on Thursday (July 29).

However, organisers also said that two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep of Romania will enter the field, replacing Williams as a wildcard entry.

Barty is coming off a singles title at Wimbledon, her second Grand Slam crown after the 2019 French Open.

"My team and I have made the decision to withdraw to have a few weeks to rest and recover from the heavy schedule of the last month," Barty said.

"While it saddens me that I won't be able to go this year, I fully intend to come back when the tour returns to Montreal in 2023."

Barty was defeated in the first round of the Tokyo Olympics this week but has reached the semi-finals of the mixed doubles with John Peers.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Kerber, ranked 21st, said she needed more time to prepare for a return to conmpetition while 109th-ranked Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, cited health reasons, Tennis Canada said.

"We're obviously disappointed that Ashleigh, Angelique and Venus will not be with us this year. They are exceptionally talented players," Montreal tournament director Eugene Lapierre said.

"On the other hand, we're very excited we will once again host Simona in Montreal. We still have 18 players from the top 20."

Tenth-ranked Halep, who won titles at Montreal in 2016 and 2018, has been sidelined since the Italian Open with a calf injury.

"I'm really looking forward to coming back to Montreal," Halep said.

"I've been working hard to prepare for the North American swing."

Kerber and Williams pulling out opened spots in the main draw for American Danielle Collins and Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.