Millennium Post

Serena withdraws from Madrid Open with flu

World No.1 and former champion Serena Williams on Friday withdrew from this year’s Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament.

Williams was suffering from flu, ruling her out from returning to the tournament she won in 2012 and 2013, tournament organisers said.

“Unfortunately, I have to withdraw from Madrid because I’ve been battling the flu and I’m not at 100%. I look forward to returning soon,” Williams said in a statement.

Williams, who is the defending French Open champion, is now scheduled to open her clay court season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in May.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion has limited her schedule to just three tournaments so far this season despite missing out in the final of both the Australian Open and Indian Wells before crashing out at the fourth round of the Miami Open last month.

Williams has instead been boosting her profile off the court as she starred alongside Beyonce in the pop superstar’s visual album this week.

However, the two-time winner in Madrid faces stiff competition from a wide-open field on her return to action despite the absence of 2014 champion Maria Sharapova after she admitted to failing a drugs test at the Australian Open. Williams’s conqueror at the Australian Open, Angelique Kerber, is in fine form after backing up her first Grand Slam by retaining her title on the indoor clay of Stuttgart last week.

And the German is looking to build on her positive start to the European clay-court season in Madrid and Rome before the French Open next month. “I know I can play well on clay,” said Kerber. “This is the attitude I’ll take to Paris.” The faster conditions than a normal clay surface in Madrid due to the slight altitude of the Spanish capital could help Kerber even more.

Two-time champion Petra Kvitova returns to defend her crown at the Caja Magica and strongly believes the conditions favour her style. “One reason is that the altitude really helps the players who are playing fast and aggressively,” the Czech told the tournament website. 
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