Serena Williams has just announced her withdrawal from this month’s Italian Open.
Her announcement comes five days after she opted out of the WTA event in Madrid as well. Williams is a four-time winner of the competition and is also a doubt for the French Open which starts on May 27, 2018.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion has not played a match on clay since reaching the final at Roland Garros in 2016. She returned to the WTA Tour in March and reached the third round at Indian Wells, where she was beaten by sister Venus, before falling in the first round of the Miami Open to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
A statement on the tournament’s Twitter feed read: “We are so sad to announce that @serenawilliams, a 4-time Champion in Rome, has withdrawn from #ibi18.
“Obviously we can’t wait to see her again on Foro Italico’s red clay, perhaps in 2019?”
There must now be some doubt over whether Williams will play at the French Open later this month. Were she to make her Grand Slam comeback at Roland Garros, it would be without having played a match on clay since 2016.