Lawn Tennis World number one Serena Williams said Tuesday night via the organizers of BNP Paribas Open that a knee injury has forced her to pull out of the Indian Wells competition.
Williams was the top seed in the draw, and was slated to play either Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig or American qualifier Danielle Rose Collins in her opening match.
The 35-year old, who last played at the Australian Open, where she won an Open era record 23rd Grand Slam earlier this year, said she will also miss the Miami Open which comes up later this month.
“Sadly, I have to withdraw from… Indian Wells and Miami Open. I have not been able to train due to my knees,” said the American.
“I am disappointed I cannot be there. I will keep moving forward, continue to be positive. I look forward to being back.”
She added she would return “as soon as I can”.
Indian Wells organisers said a revised draw would be issued later.
Williams, who won the tournament in 1999 and in 2001, only returned to the Californian tournament in 2015 after a 14-year boycott following claims she had suffered racist abuse at the venue; and then lost to Victoria Azarenka, 6-4, 6-4, in the final last year.
Her withdrawal this time means Germany’s Angelique Kerber is set to replace her as world number one.
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