Injury forces Venus Williams out of Wimbledon

FIVE-TIMES singles champion Venus Williams has pulled out of Wimbledon because of a back injury.

Fivetimes champion Venus Williams will miss Wimbledon for the first time since her 1997 debut due to a lower back injury. Picture: AP
Fivetimes champion Venus Williams will miss Wimbledon for the first time since her 1997 debut due to a lower back injury. Picture: AP
Fivetimes champion Venus Williams will miss Wimbledon for the first time since her 1997 debut due to a lower back injury. Picture: AP

The 33-year-old struggled with the problem during the clay-court season and has not played since withdrawing from the doubles at Roland Garros with sister Serena.

Williams wrote on her Facebook page: “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in Wimbledon this year.

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“I am extremely disappointed as I have always loved The Championships, but I need to take time to let my back heal.

“I look forward to returning to the courts as soon as possible, with my goal being to return to Mylan World Team Tennis on July 8th in Washington DC.

“Many thanks to my fans for the love and support and I will be seeing you very soon back on the courts.”

Williams has become increasingly prone to injury as well as battling the auto-immune disease Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Williams had never missed Wimbledon since her debut in 1997 and was the singles champion at the All England Club in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

She suffered her first opening-round defeat last year since 1997 to Elena Vesnina but won the doubles title for a fifth time with Serena.

Meanwhile, British No 1 Laura Robson recorded her first win under new coach Miles Maclagan to reach the second round of the AEGON International in Eastbourne.

The 19-year-old teamed up with Maclagan ahead of the grass season but lost her first match in Birmingham last week to eventual title winner Daniela Hantuchova. Robson had a better draw at Eastbourne, facing Ukrainian qualifier Yuliya Beygelzimer, and she was much the stronger player in a 6-3, 6-2 victory.

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Robson has had an inconsistent season and she was erratic in the early stages, but a break for 4-2 in the opening set settled her down.

The teenager’s serve is both a strength and a weakness but she had a good day with it yesterday, powering down eight aces. In the second round Robson will play former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, and she will hope to gain some revenge after losing to the Dane in the first round of the French Open.

Wozniacki was watched by boyfriend Rory McIlroy, who headed straight to Eastbourne from the US Open golf.

And the fifth seed managed only her second win in eight matches, albeit by retirement, with defending champion Tamira Paszek quitting with a leg injury while trailing 6-2, 2-2.

Paszek beat Wozniacki in the opening round at Wimbledon last year before going on to reach the quarter-finals but has had a miserable 2013, winning just two matches.

Elena Baltacha made it four British players through to the second round as the Scot continued her fine form on grass with a 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) victory over qualifier Kristyna Pliskova.

However, there were first-round defeats for James Ward and Johanna Konta. Ward lost 6-3, 6-4 to Australia’s controversial world No 64 Bernard Tomic, while British No 3 Konta found world No 44 Hsieh Su-wei too tough, losing 6-4, 6-3.

There were straightforward wins for second seed Li Na, third seed Angelique Kerber, former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Sam Stosur.

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But there was a major upset late in the day as top seed and last year’s Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska was dumped out in the first round 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 by rising American star Jamie Hampton.

In the men’s doubles, fourth seeds Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray dispatched fellow Britons James Ward And Jamie Delgado 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, while Jamie Murray and his Australian partner John Peers beat Italians Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4. But there was disappointment for French Open boys doubles champion Kyle Edmund and Sean Thornley, who lost 4-6 7-6 (9/7), 10-6 to Eric Butorac of the USA and Andy Ram of Israel.

David Ferrer’s Wimbledon preparations were dealt a blow when he lost to Xavier Malisse in the first round of the ATP Topshelf Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Belgian Malisse, a semi-finalist in SW19 11 years ago, is always dangerous on grass and he reached the second round with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 victory over the French Open runner-up in the Dutch grasscourt event.