The start of the clay season for Serena Williams will be delayed a week. On Friday, the World No. 1 withdrew from next week’s Madrid Open, citing illness.
The withdrawal continues a strange start to 2016 for Williams, who has been successful enough to make the final of the two most important events of the year thus far in Australia and Indian Wells, while still playing as if something is amiss. She has not won a title since coming up short of the Calendar Grand Slam at the U.S. Open last fall.
The two-time Madrid Open champion is still far and away the top ranked woman, though she will drop nearly 400 points by missing out on the tournament this year. For the first time in ages, the upcoming French Open could see her stay in the No. 1 spot put at risk.
For now, her absence bumps Aga Radwanska into the top seed, and, more importantly, moves Angie Kerber up to the second seed.
Williams is not the only big name forced to withdraw either. In addition to Caroline Wozniacki who was already known to be out with a bad ankle injury, Serena’s older sister Venus withdrew due to a hamstring ailment, while Belinda Bencic’s 2016 continues to be stunted by a lower back injury.
The next event to watch for with Williams is the following week in Rome, which is the only clay tournament she is scheduled to play before the French.