Rogers Cup: Serena Williams’s Injury is Hard Hit for Tournament
The Rogers Cup women’s tennis championships suffered a major blow Sunday when Wimbledon champion Serena Williams withdrew with an inflammation of the right shoulder.
While the tournament still boasts eight of the Top 10 women in the WTA Tour rankings, Williams is not only the No. 1 player on the tour, but also the biggest draw in women’s tennis.
With Williams setting her sights on defending her singles and doubles titles next month at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the decision to rest her shoulder is another reflection of the reality that while the Rogers Cup is a major event on the WTA Tour calendar, it’s not in the same league as the Grand Slams or the Olympics.
The men’s event in Toronto is missing Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The only other Top 10 player missing from the women’s draw is No. 6 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus who has dropped out of competition after learning she is pregnant.
Williams’s withdrawal caused come complications for tournament officials because she pulled out after the draw had been made. Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open winner from Germany, moves into the top spot while Garbine Muguruza of Spain is the No. 2 seed.
The withdrawal means a slightly easier first-round match for wild card Françoise Abanda of Montreal. She was scheduled to meet Elina Svitolina of Ukraine who is No. 19 in the rankings. Svitolina moves up into a seeded spot and Abanda now plays qualifier Saisai Zheng of China, who is No. 52 in the rankings. They’ll meet in the second match in Uniprix Stadium Monday night.
There was a buzz prior to the official draw on Friday that Serena would not play here, but the confirmation wasn’t made until shortly after noon on Sunday. Williams hasn’t played since Wimbledon and she was in California last week cheering on older sister Venus who lost to Briton Johanna Konta in the Bank of the West tournament final Sunday in Stanford.
While Serena was taking a pass on Montreal, Eugenie Bouchard told the media that she will represent Canada in Rio. After losing in the first round of the Citi Open in Washington last week, Bouchard had said she would until the last minute before making a decision on the Olympics.
Her announcement Sunday was good news for doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski, whose participation depends on having Bouchard as a partner.
“I had concerns about going, of course, because of Zika and my health and summer in general,” Bouchard said Sunday. “I spent a lot of time making this decision, but in the end I know that I really want to go. I’ll take all the necessary precautions.”
Bouchard will play her first match Tuesday afternoon when she faces Czech Lucia Safarova.
Canada’s top male player, world No. 7 Milos Raonic — who reached the singles final at Wimbledon — withdrew from the Olympic team this month over a similar concern.
Canada’s last chance for a fourth entry in the main draw ended when Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga lost to third-seeded Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine.
Bondarenko, who is No. 56 in the WTA Tour rankings, was clearly the superior player, but the 16-year-old Andreescu showed the impatience of youth as she went for big points, which resulted in numerous unforced errors.
Andreescu can take some consolation in her first-round qualifying win over 16th-seeded Samantha Crawford of the U.S. That win was worth 20 points and she will jump more than 100 places from her current WTA ranking of 643.