Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Italian Open after beating Sweden’s Rebekah Peterson in the first round, citing a knee injury. She was due to face her older sister Venus who will now receive a bye into the next round.
AFP reported that the 37-year-old said she will be fit for the French Open which is due to start on May 26th. "I must withdraw from the Italian Open due to pain in my left knee," Serena said in a statement. "I will miss the fans and competition at one of my favourite tournaments. I'll be concentrating on rehab and look forward to seeing you all at the French Open and next year in Rome."
The knee injury has been a recurring problem for the 23-time Grand Slam winner and left her side-lined for two months. She has played just eight games since retiring during her match against Garbine Muguruza in the Indian Wells Masters in March.
She also beat Peterson in the Miami Open later that month before withdrawing. Williams’ last Grand Slam title was the Australian Open in 2017 where she broke Steffi Graf’s record of 22 titles. Williams is now ranked 11th in the world and has completed just eight matches this year, also withdrawing from Indian Wells in March with illness.