Serena Williams appears to have called time on her season following her meltdown at the US Open after being left out of the China Open draw on Friday.
Williams’ name, along with sister Venus, did not appear on a list of 64 players ahead of the start of the tournament in Beijing.
It comes less than three weeks after the tempestuous US Open final, where Williams accused the umpire of lying and sexism in an angry and ugly rant during her 6-2, 6-4 defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion later said she wanted to “move on” from the incident, but maintained that women players could not get away with “even half of what a guy can do”.
“Right now we are not, as it’s proven, in that same position,” the 37-year-old told Australia’s Channel Ten.
“But that’s neither here nor there. I’m just trying most of all to recover from that and move on.”
The episode polarised tennis with many expressing sympathy for the US icon, while others said her behaviour was out of line.
Osaka was in tears during the victory ceremony for her first Grand Slam win as boos rang out from the New York crowd, prompting Williams to call for calm.
“We cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with,” Czech-born American Martina Navratilova wrote in the New York Times.
“In fact, this is the sort of behaviour that no-one should be engaging in on the court.”
Reports from America said Williams’ season is now over, which would make it the fourth year in a row she has curtailed her playing commitments.
Last year it was due to her pregnancy, while in 2016 she called it quits after the US Open citing a shoulder injury. In 2015 she took a break after narrowly failing to win all four majors in the same year, following a shattering defeat in New York to Italy’s Roberta Vinci.
The biggest event left on the 2018 calendar is next month’s elite, eight-player WTA Finals in Singapore. Williams is currently 11th on the Race to Singapore rankings.
Andy Murray’s mum says the three-time Grand Slam champion will not rush his comeback from a hip injury that has blighted him since last year.
Former world number one Murray, who has played hardly any tennis since a hip operation earlier this year, is currently in action at the Shenzhen Open in China and will play just one more tournament this season, in Beijing.
Murray has plummeted from the top of the tennis world in 2016 to 311th in the rankings, and his mother Judy said he is “desperate” to return to full fitness.
“He’s doing well. He’s working with a rehab specialist in Philadelphia,” said the former British Fed Cup captain.
“He wants to absolutely focus the rest of the year on getting his body as ready as he can for the start of (2019).
“It’s been a long haul and that’s tough for anybody, but he’s incredibly disciplined, he’s incredibly resilient.”
Judy is in Wuhan conducting coaching workshops during the Wuhan Open.
Her son showed flashes of his old self Thursday in Shenzhen, where he swatted aside top seed David Goffin in straight sets.
While there were few visible signs in that match of the hip trouble that put him out of action, the 31-year-old’s mother said he will not take any risks.
In 2013, a year after his first Grand Slam win at the US Open, Murray became the first British player to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in more than 75 years, and won the trophy again three years later.
“He loves what he does, so he’s desperate to get back. But… when you’ve been out that long, you don’t want to rush it,” said Judy, who coached him during his early years.
“I think he’s in a good place at the moment.”
The Scot will face Fernando Verdasco in the Shenzhen Open quarter-finals on Friday.
WUHAN, CHINA — Naomi Osaka may have withdrawn from the Wuhan Open with a viral illness but she remained the talk of the town here at the tournament as top players of the WTA heaped praise on the recently-crowned US Open champion.
Osaka impressed with both her game and composure in New York to lift her maiden Grand Slam title with victory over Serena Williams in the final.
She dropped a total of 28 games across her seven matches at the US Open, losing just one set to Aryna Sabalenka, and became the first-ever Japanese player win a Grand Slam singles title.
Osaka’s route to major glory is not your typical one. The 20-year-old had never won any title prior to this season, and when she was crowned for the first time, it was at the Premier Mandatory event at Indian Wells in March. She made sure her second success would be even bigger, as she stunned the field at the Open.
She broke serve a whopping 31 times throughout the fortnight in Queens, New York and won 91.5 per cent of her own service games (a 17.8% increase on her season average according to WTA Insider).
“She was extremely impressive,” Madison Keys, who lost to Osaka in the US Open semi-finals, told reporters in Wuhan this week.
“I remember playing her in the match thinking, ‘Okay, I hit a good ball, maybe something short is going to come back’, and it was not. Just I kept thinking like, ‘Okay, there will be a let-up, somewhere I’ll be able to get back in it’. I mean, even any of the break points that I had, I had no shot,” added Keys, who couldn’t convert any of her 13 break points against Osaka in New York.
“I walked away obviously very disappointed, but at the same time to play someone who was playing at that level, I was actually really happy to see her be able to handle the situation of the final so well because I think she deserved it. Then to come and make the final in Tokyo, it was really impressive, but also not surprising.”
After she won the US Open, Osaka was asked about her future goals. She quickly noted that her next tournament was Tokyo and that she hoped she could claim the title there. She fell just one match win short of doing just that.
Unlike others who may have needed some time to adjust to their status as new Grand Slam champions, Osaka kept her run going. She went to Tokyo a week after her success at the Open and extended her winning streak to 10 matches in a row by reaching the final at her home tournament. She ran out of gas at the end, losing in straight sets to Karolina Pliskova, and settled for the runner-up trophy.
She is the first maiden Slam champion to make the final of her next event since Victoria Azarenka won the Australian Open and Doha back-to-back in 2012.
World No. 1 Simona Halep is also not surprised by Osaka’s achievements. While Halep has two wins over Osaka this season (Australian Open fourth round, Rome second round), she only mustered three games against the young Japanese in the semi-finals of Indian Wells. She knows what an in-form Osaka is capable of.
“She was always able to do these things because she’s a very good player. Her mental is strong. Even if she’s young, she has many good things in her mind and also body. She has power. These days is really important,” said Halep of Osaka.
“I think she got the confidence after the great result that she’s done in US Open. Then she just went with the flow. But she deserves that because she worked really hard, and she was close many times. She won Indian Wells, so she was close. It’s good for her.”
Osaka’s dominant display in New York caught Caroline Garcia’s eye. It wasn’t just that Osaka was winning those matches, it’s how she was winning them, said the fourth-ranked Frenchwoman.
“It was a great performance for her, for all the tournament. Like, she killed everyone,” said Garcia.
“It was very impressive matches. Two sets, 2-2, 0-0, 1-1. Against Sabalenka was a fight. I didn’t really see her match and her performance on TV or anything, so I don’t know how she played, but I can only imagine.”
Garcia added: “It’s always funny to see her at the trophy ceremony. Most of the time I look like overexcited, over the moon. She’s like, ‘It’s okay’,” Garcia said with a laugh, mimicking Osaka’s nonchalant look.
“It’s her personality. She’s like this. I’m sure inside it was different. But she still carried on and played great tennis in Tokyo. I think if she’s doing what she’s doing, that’s means she worked hard for it and she deserves it, so it’s great.”
Osaka described her first victory speech when she won Indian Wells as the “worst acceptance speech ever”. It was actually very endearing. She is shy, funny and quirky, and has got more comfortable addressing large crowds which was evident in how gracious she was after winning the US Open – amid difficult circumstances – and how poised she was on all of the American talk shows she appeared on post-victory.
Osaka still maintains that she doesn’t have many friends on tour and that she finds it difficult to approach others, but the locker room is finally getting to learn more about her as her star shines bright.
“I don’t know her [Osaka] very well. I feel like I’m probably more outspoken and louder than she is,” Keys said with a laugh.
“I’m sure she probably hears me, she’s like, ‘Oh, God, I don’t want to talk to her’. I know her from afar. She seems very genuine and sweet and shy and all that.
“I think that she’s definitely made a name for herself. I think her whole personality is really interesting and nice. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air.”