Two-time Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka withdraws from Wimbledon

Two-time Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka withdraws from Wimbledon

Wimbledon has been shocked by the news that third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka has withdrawn from the tournament.

Sabalenka, the two-time Australian Open champion, issued a statement last night saying she was “heartbroken” to be unable to compete due to an injured shoulder.

The popular 26-year-old was scheduled to face American Emina Bektas in the first round on Day 1 of the grass court Grand Slam tournament.

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Rumors soon spread that the match would not go ahead, much to the disappointment of fans and commentators.

“Incredibly sad news as #3 Aryna Sabalenka, two-time semifinalist, withdraws from Wimbledon due to a shoulder injury,” tennis journalist José Morgado wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“Bottom of women’s league now VERY OPEN.”

Sabalenka said she pushed herself to the limit during training, but it was in vain.
Sabalenka said she pushed herself to the limit during training, but it was in vain. Credit: Getty Images

Sabalenka was devastated by the situation and wrote an emotional statement on social media.

“I am heartbroken to tell you all that I will not be able to compete at The Championships this year. I have tried everything to prepare myself, but unfortunately my shoulder is not cooperating,” Sabalenka said.

“I pushed myself to the limit in training today to do my best, but my team explained that playing would only make things worse. This tournament means so much to me and I promise to come back next year stronger than ever.”

Sabalenka, who reached the semi-finals at the All England Club the last two times she played there, was replaced in Monday’s draw by Erika Andreeva, who lost in qualifying last week.

Just over a week ago, Sabalenka stopped playing during the first set of her quarter-final at the Ladies Open in Berlin due to pain in her shoulder.

She said she had a muscle injury that she called “very frustrating.”

“The most annoying thing is that I can do everything. I can practice, I can hit my groundstrokes. I have trouble serving. That’s really annoying. You don’t feel like you’re injured,” Sabalenka said.

“If you give me some weights, I’m going to lift some weights. But if you tell me to serve, I’m going to push through the pain. We did an MRI, we did everything. We did a lot of rehab, a lot of treatments and everything.”

Another withdrawal was Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, seeded 16th, also due to a shoulder injury. She was supposed to play Sloane Stephens, but is replaced by lucky loser Elsa Jacquemot.

Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka returned to Wimbledon after a five-year absence. On Monday, she won the first round match against Frenchwoman Diane Parry, 6-1 1-6 6-4 thanks to a nervous serve from her opponent.

Osaka, who twice trailed a break in the third set, said: “I wish I could say I enjoyed (the match) the whole time,” Osaka, who has won both the US and Australian Opens twice, said in an on-court interview. “My heart was racing.”

Coco Gauff didn’t have to hide from the spotlight as she banished memories of her 2023 Wimbledon nightmare with a 6-1 6-2 first-round victory over compatriot Caroline Dolehide.

On the eve of this year’s championships, Gauff admitted she was “in a dark period” following her opening round exit in London last year, but armed with the knowledge that this time “it couldn’t get any worse”, she was simply unstoppable against her rival, who is ranked 51st.

“Last year I lost in the first round and that was really hard for me. That’s why I’m a little bit emotional and that’s why I was happy to turn it around,” Gauff said.

Madison Keys, last year’s quarterfinalist, defeated Martina Trevisan 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to reach the second round, where the 12th-seeded American will face China’s Yafan Wang. Roland Garros finalist Jasmine Paolini defeated Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-5 6-3 and will now face Germany’s Greet Minnen.

Emma Raducanu ended a dispiriting run of first-round defeats for British players at Grand Slams when the wildcard defeated Mexican Renata Zarazua 7-6 (7-0) 6-3.

British wildcard Lily Miyazaki doubled her annual income for an hour’s work when she reached the second round of Wimbledon for the first time. The Tokyo-born 28-year-old pocketed $176,000 after beating Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch 6-2 6-1.

Another home candidate, qualifier Sonay Kartal, surprised 29th-seeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea 3-6 6-2 6-0.

– With AAP