No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka withdraws from Wimbledon with a shoulder injury

No.  3 Aryna Sabalenka withdraws from Wimbledon with a shoulder injury

WIMBLEDON, England — Wimbledon’s opening day was dramatic early as third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus withdrew from the tournament due to a shoulder injury ahead of her first-round match on Monday.

Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open the past two years, was favorite to win her third Grand Slam. She will be replaced in the draw by 20-year-old Russian Erika Andreeva, who will face 31-year-old American Emina Bektas in the first round.

Sabalenka warmed up briefly on Monday before deciding to withdraw. The 26-year-old arrived at the All-England Club with a teres major muscle injury in her shoulder, which has prevented her from using her biggest weapon: her serve. Now fully healthy, Sabalenka has one of the most powerful serves in the women’s game.

“The most annoying thing is that I can do everything. I can practice, I can hit my groundstrokes. I have trouble serving,” Sabalenka said during a pre-tournament press conference on Saturday. “That’s really annoying. You don’t feel like you’re injured. If you give me some weights, I’ll lift some weights. But if you tell me to serve, I’ll go through the pain.”

Injuries are a major talking point at Wimbledon this year, with two-time champion Andy Murray expected to make a decision on whether to enter the singles draw later on Monday. The 37-year-old underwent surgery on June 22 to remove a cyst on his back that was compressing nerves and affecting sensation in his right leg. He said on Sunday that he was improving every day but still did not have full feeling in his limbs.

The first round is scheduled for Tuesday for the match against Czech Tomas Machac.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic also starts his Wimbledon on Tuesday against a Czech man, Vit Kopriva, and says he is confident in his ability to compete despite having surgery on June 5 to repair the torn medial meniscus in his right knee.