Serena Williams (KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena Williams has yet to play since her fourth round exit at the Australian Open after withdrawing from Qatar Total Open in Doha and then the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
The World No. 1 joins her nearest rival Victoria Azarenka on the injury list where Doha is concerned, citing a back injury, that ruled her out of the Fed Cup tie against champions Italy this weekend.
Williams, who is still staggeringly more than 6000 ranking points ahead of nearest rivals Victoria Azarenka and Li Na was set to be the Qatar top seed – Li Na picks up that slot and will push Azarenka down the rankings after next week.
After years of boycotting the Indian Wells event, along with her sister Venus, organisers were delighted to see her name on the preliminary entry list at the end of last month, but on Friday issued a statement of withdrawal.
“After careful consideration, I will not return to the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open this year," Williams said. "I send my best wishes to everyone involved in the tournament.”
Steve Simon, the tournament director, said, “We wish her the best of luck and hope she decides to play here next year.”
In the 2001 edition of the event, controversy surrounded the family after Williams advanced after Veus had defaulted their scheduled semi-final. Family members were booed by the crowd, and since then neither sister has competed at the event.
Indian Wells is the most attended tennis event outside of the four Grand Slams and has evolved into a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar.
The Qatar Total Open takes place between 10-16 February, and the BNP Paribas Open takes place between 5 – 16 March.