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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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Serena Williams pulls out of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Serena Williams withdrew hours before her opening match at the Australian Open, citing an ankle injury she picked up in a tuneup event.

The fifth-seeded Williams was scheduled to play Conchita Martinez later Monday on a show court at Melbourne Park.

First-round matches had started on outside courts Monday when tournament officials announced Williams' withdrawal -- not long after defending men's champion Andre Agassi pulled out with an injured wrist.

Women's No. 1 Lindsay Davenport already was sidelined after right knee surgery Friday.

Martinez will play Russia's Lina Krasnoroutskaya, who was moved from the top half of the draw to the bottom half to replace Williams. Krasnoroutskaya's original slot in the main draw was filled by New Zealand's Pavlina Nola, the lucky loser from qualifying, who will open against Slovakia's Janette Husarova.

Williams twisted her ankle chasing a drop shot in a semifinal Friday against Meghann Shaughnessy at the Adidas International in Sydney. Williams continued playing for three games against Shaughnessy before retiring when trailing 5-4 in the first set.

Williams, the 1999 U.S. Open champion, was in a tough portion of the Australian Open draw along with her sister Venus and former No. 1 Martina Hingis.

Williams lost to Hingis in the quarterfinals here last year.
 
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