Venus Williams withdraws from Wimbledon champions because of injury
Back problem caused her problems at last month's French Open in Paris
2013 championships will be first Venus has missed since Wimbledon debut in 1997
Five-time champion Venus Williams has pulled out of next week’s Wimbledon championships because of injury.
The 33-year-old has not missed a tournament at the grass court finals since making her debut in 1997 but has struggled with a back injury in recent months.
“Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in Wimbledon this year,” the American wrote on her Facebook page.
“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.”
Williams suffered her earliest French Open exit in 12 years last month when she crashed to a first-round defeat to Poland’s Urszula Radwanska.
She said her back had troubled her during the match and then pulled out of the doubles with her sister Serena, the world number one, because of the problem.
In March, the seven-time grand slam champion was forced out of the Miami Masters because of the same injury to her lower back.
Venus’ withdrawal denies the world No. 34 the chance to get ahead of Serena at the championships, with both sisters tied on five singles titles apiece.
Venus, who lost in the first round for the first time last year, won her titles in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, while Serena is the defending champion.
Serena aside, the women’s field only has two other ladies that have managed to win the title: Maria Sharapova, who succeeded in 2004, and 2011 champion Petra Kvitova.
Despite her recent injury troubles, Venus’ opponents may be relieved by the absence of a player who last contested the final in 2009, when she was beaten by her younger sister.
“My goal (is) to return on July 8 in Washington,” the elder Williams said. “Many thanks to my fans for the love and support and I will be seeing you very soon back on the courts.”
Venus’ absence means she will be unable to defend the doubles title she won last year with Serena, their fifth triumph at Wimbledon.
The duo, who have contested four singles finals against one another at Wimbledon, also triumphed on Center Court last year when winning a gold medal in the doubles at the London Olympics.