Serena Williams has ruled herself out of next week's US Open after the 23-time Grand Slam champion said she needed more time to heal from a torn hamstring.
Williams, 39, last competed at Wimbledon at the end of June when she was forced to retire early during her first round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich. The American entered that match with heavy strapping on her thigh and after slipping on the court she aggravated the injury to the extent that it ended her tournament.
Hoping to be fit in time for the US Open, where she has won six of her Grand Slam titles, Williams has released a statement saying that she will be absent from the fourth and final major of the season.
"After careful consideration and following the medical 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," Williams said in a post published on her Instagram account.
"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 on from afar. Thank you for your continued love and support. I'll see you all soon."
Williams won the last of her six US Open titles in 2014 but has twice reached the final since, in 2018 and 2019. Victory in either of those matches would have pulled the American level with Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. But Williams lost the infamous 2018 final to Naomi Osaka, a match which descended into chaos after the American was penalised for berating the umpire, before losing to Bianca Andreescu the following year.
Williams' withdrawal comes after four-time champion Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - five times a winner in New York - announced their absences from the US Open.
Spain's Nadal, most recently champion in 2019, ruled himself out of the tournament - and the rest of the season - due to an ongoing foot injury, while Swiss great Federer confirmed his absence after revealing he was due to undergo more knee surgery that would end his 2021 season.
Defending men's champion Dominic Thiem will also be missing as the Austrian continues to recover from a wrist injury.