(REUTERS, AFP) - Former world No. 1 Serena Williams has pulled out of next week's US Open, saying on Wednesday (Aug 25) that her torn hamstring has not completely healed ahead of the final tennis Grand Slam of the year.
Williams, a six-time winner at Flushing Meadows, has had an injury-marred season and limped out of her first-round match at Wimbledon in tears due to the leg injury.
The 39-year-old, who has been on the hunt for an elusive 24th Grand Slam singles title, skipped the Olympics in Tokyo and also opted out of the Cincinnati Masters, a tune-up event to the US Open.
"After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring," the American, who turns 40 in a month, wrote in a statement on Instagram.
"New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world and one of my favourite places to play - I'll miss seeing the fans but will be cheering everyone from afar."
Williams is the latest big name to pull out of the tournament, after reigning men's champion Dominic Thiem and four-time winner Rafa Nadal ended their 2021 season due to injuries.
The main draw of the US Open gets under way on Monday. Japanese Naomi Osaka is the defending women's champion.
Williams has not played since Wimbledon when she hobbled off the court during the first set in the first round against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Williams, whose ranking has now slipped to 22nd, won her first Slam at the 1999 US Open as a teenager, the first step on her path to domination of the women's game.
She last missed the event in 2017 for the birth of her daughter Olympia but she returned to the courts in March 2018.
She went on to reach the final in 2018 and 2019, losing to Osaka and Bianca Andreescu respectively before falling last in the semi-finals to Victoria Azarenka, all of which added to her frustration as she attempted to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 singles Slam titles.