BSP-16 Serena Williams pulls plug on China Open, season looks over

504

ZCZC

BSP-16

TENNIS-CHN-WTA-WILLIAMS

Serena Williams pulls plug on China Open, season looks over

BEIJING, Sept 28, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – American great Serena Williams was
left out of the China Open tennis draw on Friday as she appeared to call time
on her season following her meltdown at the US Open.

Williams’ name, along with that of her sister Venus, did not appear on a
list of 64 players ahead of the start of the tournament in Beijing, one of
the women’s tour’s mandatory events.

It comes less than three weeks after the tempestuous US Open final, where
Williams, 37, accused the umpire of lying and sexism in an angry rant during
her 6-2, 6-4 defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.

In extraordinary scenes, Williams went into a tailspin after a warning for
receiving coaching from the sidelines, smashing her racquet and being docked
a point and then a game.

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,” she 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 Williams,
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.”

– ‘On the cusp’ –

Reports from the United States said Williams’ season is now over, which
would make it the fourth year in a row she has curtailed her playing
commitments — although in 2017 she took time off to have a baby.

In 2016 she called it quits after the US Open citing a shoulder injury,
and 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.

Williams, who won her first Grand Slam title in New York in 1999, captured
her 23rd while pregnant at last year’s Australian Open, but she has since
stuttered on the brink of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24.

After returning to the circuit as a mother in March, Williams reached the
French Open last 16 before pulling out injured, and she lost the Wimbledon
final to Angelique Kerber.

Williams said she felt “on the cusp of this amazing moment” at the US Open
before the straight-sets loss to Osaka, 20, who stunned her childhood hero.

BSS/AFP/BZC/1935HRS