MELBOURNE: Serena Williams pulled out of the Yarra Valley Classic at Melbourne Park on Friday (Feb 5) with a right shoulder injury, just days before the Australian Open.
The 39-year-old showed no ill effects from the issue and overcame fellow American Danielle Collins 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 to set up a semi-final showdown with world number one Ashleigh Barty.
But hours later she withdrew from the tournament.
“Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Yarra Valley Classic singles draw due to a right shoulder injury,” the WTA said on Twitter.
Williams is aiming for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and had been in good form so far in Melbourne.
“Look forward to seeing you back on court next week,” the Australian Open said on its official Twitter account.
After her match against Collins, Williams had insisted that she still sets the standards for women’s tennis.
Williams has looked sharp having worked her way back from an Achilles injury suffered at last year’s US Open, which then led to a withdrawal from the French Open before the second round.
Asked whether she was still the best in the world when in top form, Williams was unequivocal.
“I absolutely wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think that,” she said.
Prior to her withdrawal, Williams had been scheduled to play on Saturday against home favourite Barty, who will be attempting to break her country’s 43-year drought in singles titles at the first Grand Slam of the year.
Williams has won both their previous contests, but they haven’t met since the 2018 French Open – one year before Barty’s breakthrough Roland Garros title en route to the top ranking.
“I think it’s definitely a good opportunity to see where I’m going against the current number one,” Williams said. “I think that’s really important for me.
“Obviously I think for her, as well, to see where she’s going against my game.
“I think I’m a pretty big player just on all surfaces. I think all around it’s a really good opportunity for us both.”
Barty has yet to rediscover her best, having dropped sets to Marie Bouzkova and Shelby Rogers, in her first tournament in 11 months.
“I always love testing myself against Serena. Looking forward to it tomorrow,” she said.