Saturday, August 11, 2007
Williams sisters among notable withdrawals in Toronto
TORONTO -- A 15-foot-high Serena Williams banner flapped in the breeze outside Rexall Centre on Saturday.
It's as close as Canadian tennis fans will get to the former world No. 1, at least this year.
Williams was one of several noticeable absences from Saturday's singles draw for the $1.34-million Rogers Cup women's tennis tournament. Nearly 50 numbers were pulled from a silver chalice during the 40-minute ceremony, but the talk afterward centered on who wasn't drawn.
The event, which begins Monday, has been crippled by withdrawals, with five of tennis's most recognizable faces bowing out of the tournament.
Williams is battling a nagging thumb injury, while sister Venus has tendinitis in her right knee. Martina Hingis of Switzerland is nursing back and hip ailments. France's Amelie Mauresmo, a two-time Canadian champion, is recovering from an appendicitis.
Maria Sharapova's absence may be the most damaging of all. The world's No. 2 player and clear fan favorite officially pulled out Saturday after advancing to the semifinal of a WTA event in Los Angeles. The same thing happened last year, when Sharapova missed the event in Montreal due to her schedule. She went on to win the U.S. Open two weeks later.