May 3, 2018 / 11:39 AM / 25 days ago

Former champion Serena Williams withdraws from Madrid Open

(Reuters) - Former world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Madrid Open as she continues to regain full fitness ahead of the French Open later this month, the tournament’s organisers said on Thursday.

Aug 30, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Serena Williams of the USA hits to Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine on day two of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images

The 36-year-old, who won the Madrid Open in 2012 and 2013, returned to the WTA tour in March after giving birth to her first child last September.

Williams, a 23-times grand slam singles champion, was ousted by her sister Venus in her comeback tournament at Indian Wells and last played in her first round defeat by Japan’s Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open.

"We regret the absence of Serena and we wish her a speedy recovery," tournament director Manolo Santana said in a statement on the Madrid Open website www.madrid-open.com.

“She is one of the great champions of our sport, she has always offered a show to the tournament and we hope to see her again at the Caja Magica in the future.”

Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska has also withdrawn from the Madrid Open, which runs from May 7-13, due to a back injury.

Williams missed the first grand slam of the year at the Australian Open in January and could also be ruled out of the French Open, which is held from May 21 to June 10.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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