Whatever was wrong with Serena Williams during that bizarre, short-lived doubles appearance with her sister Venus last week at Wimbledon, she's still suffering from it.
The Collector Swedish Open, taking place in Bastad, Sweden next week, regretfully announced Thursday that Williams – a huge get for the small tournament who was to make her second consecutive appearance there – has withdrawn.
From the press release (Swedish version can be found here), Williams's statement says that she is still not 100 per cent recovered, and doesn't want to compete until she is. She hopes to resume training next week.
She also says that Bastad was her favorite tournament last year and that "there's always a next year." You have to take her at her word on that. A hard-court event in Sweden with just a week between it and the Wimbledon final, which she could reasonably be expected to reach (at least ahead of the event) isn't something a world No. 1 typically does.
The clay-court and grass-court segment of the tennis calendar is grueling, and most of the top players take a vacation right then, to recharge for the equally grueling American hard-court portion of the season.
Williams has done this late pullout thing at smaller events before, for various reasons that have usually been legit (Istanbul in 2010 especially comes to mind). But when you're a small event that opens the checkbook to get one of the few truly marquee names in the women's game, these sorts of things hurt. They've spent the money getting the player, and promoting the player for months leading up to the tournament. And when there's a withdrawal, they can't deliver on what they promise.
It's a little too late to Photoshop her out of all the promotional material.
Tournament director Nina Wennerstrom says in the press release that the tournament had received reassurances from Williams's camp that she was still planning to come to Bastad, even after that incident at Wimbledon. But that's also something that happens all the time. Until they're not coming, they say they're coming.
That's what happened in Istanbul, which spent six months and a lot of money making sure Williams would have everything she needed. It was a legitimate withdrawal, though; it came after Williams had cut her foot on broken glass in a German restaurant after Wimbledon, an incident that cost her significant time and led to a frightening health scare.
Sweden's Johanna Larsson is a lovely woman, and she got to the final last year before losing to Williams, but she can't carry a WTA Tour event.
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