Serena Williams Withdraws From Cincinnati With Back Ailment As U.S. Open Looms

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With the US Open now less than two weeks away, Serena Williams has withdrawn from her second straight tournament with a back ailment.

Williams, who turns 38 next month, withdrew from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati in advance of her first-round match Tuesday night against Zarina Diyas after suffering back spasms this past weekend in Toronto. Williams retired Sunday after four games during the Rogers Cup final against Bianca Andreescu because of back spasms.

"I came to Mason on Sunday and have tried everything to be ready to play tonight, and was still hopeful after my practice this morning," Williams, who practiced earlier Tuesday, said in a statement. But unfortunately my back is still not right."

Williams has now pulled out of 6 of 8 events this year to due injury or illness.

Williams said the back issues first began Saturday during her semifinal victory over Marie Bouskova in Toronto, and then they acted up again during the final on Sunday.

"It started yesterday in my match and it just got worse," she told reporters Sunday. "Just my whole back just completely spasmed, and to a point where I couldn't sleep and I couldn't really move. And so I was just trying to figure out, How do you play a match where you have no rotation?"

She added: "I would have really regretted not at least going out there and seeing maybe if a miracle happened. I've had this before and it’s 24-36 hours where I'm in crazy spasm and then it's gone. That's a frustrating for me because I know that I could play. I just can't play today.”

Williams now has almost two weeks to recover before the US Open begins Aug. 26. Williams was considered the favorite before Sunday's events.

Serena has 23 Grand Slam titles and is one shy of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24. Since giving birth in September 2017, she has yet to win a tournament of any kind and has lost in three Grand Slam finals.

Williams leads the Forbes list of highest-earning female athletes in the world at $29.2 million annually.

Earlier Tuesday, Venus Williams outlasted world No. 5 Kiki Bertens in three tough sets to reach the third round in Cincinnati.

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With the US Open now less than two weeks away, Serena Williams has withdrawn from her second straight tournament with a back ailment.

Williams, who turns 38 next month, withdrew from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati in advance of her first-round match Tuesday night against Zarina Diyas after suffering back spasms this past weekend in Toronto. Williams retired Sunday after four games during the Rogers Cup final against Bianca Andreescu because of back spasms.

"I came to Mason on Sunday and have tried everything to be ready to play tonight, and was still hopeful after my practice this morning," Williams, who practiced earlier Tuesday, said in a statement. But unfortunately my back is still not right."

Williams has now pulled out of 6 of 8 events this year to due injury or illness.

Williams said the back issues first began Saturday during her semifinal victory over Marie Bouskova in Toronto, and then they acted up again during the final on Sunday.

"It started yesterday in my match and it just got worse," she told reporters Sunday. "Just my whole back just completely spasmed, and to a point where I couldn't sleep and I couldn't really move. And so I was just trying to figure out, How do you play a match where you have no rotation?"

She added: "I would have really regretted not at least going out there and seeing maybe if a miracle happened. I've had this before and it’s 24-36 hours where I'm in crazy spasm and then it's gone. That's a frustrating for me because I know that I could play. I just can't play today.”

Williams now has almost two weeks to recover before the US Open begins Aug. 26. Williams was considered the favorite before Sunday's events.

Serena has 23 Grand Slam titles and is one shy of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24. Since giving birth in September 2017, she has yet to win a tournament of any kind and has lost in three Grand Slam finals.

Williams leads the Forbes list of highest-earning female athletes in the world at $29.2 million annually.

Earlier Tuesday, Venus Williams outlasted world No. 5 Kiki Bertens in three tough sets to reach the third round in Cincinnati.

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