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Venus Williams withdraws from Italian Open


April 30, 2003
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Venus Williams withdrew from the Italian Open to avoid playing four straight tournaments before the French Open.

The clay-court Rome event, part of the Masters series, is scheduled for May 12-18. This marks the second straight year she has pulled out of this important tuneup for the French Open.

Last year, she withdrew from her first-round match against Anna Kournikova because of a wrist injury, with the stadium already half-full. Venus Williams appeared on court and apologized to the crowd minutes before the match was to begin.

Williams, ranked No. 3, is playing this week in Poland. She played in the Fed Cup last week and is scheduled to play in the German Open next week.

``I'm so disappointed to have to withdraw from Rome this year,'' Williams said Wednesday in a statement released by the WTA . ``I've been successful in Rome before, having won in 1999, so I was looking forward to returning to the tournament.''

This would have been her fourth appearance at the Italian Open. Her withdrawal moves Alexandra Stevenson of the United States into the main draw.
 
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