Serena and Venus Williams added themselves to the list of big-name withdrawals from the U.S. Open on Wednesday, making this the first time since 2003 neither of the sisters will appear in the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.
Serena, who turns 40 next month, cited a torn right hamstring that has kept her out of competition since she was injured in the first set of her first-round match at Wimbledon in late June.
Venus, who is 41, said she has a leg injury.
They announced their decisions via social media posts about 10 hours apart.
“Not the best news from Serena and I today. I, too, am unable to play the U.S. Open. It’s super super super disappointing,” Venus said. “Having some issues with my leg all this summer and just couldn’t work through it.”
The Americans join Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in sitting out the competition in Flushing Meadows, where play begins next Monday, raising questions about what the future of tennis might look like without them. The draw for the tournament is Thursday.
This will be the first major tournament since the 1997 Australian Open without any of the four in the singles brackets. Venus made her Grand Slam debut at the 1997 French Open; Serena arrived the next year; Federer showed up in 1999; Nadal in 2003.
Serena has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, a record in the professional era. Only one player in tennis history owns more, Margaret Court with 24. Venus has won seven, including at the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001.
Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic share the men’s record of 20.
“After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring,” Serena wrote in her post Wednesday.
Her note ended with: “I’ll see you soon.”
Serena’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, also put up a post on social media, saying, “we’ve done everything we could” and adding: “It is heartbreaking, but this is the only possible decision.”
She has won six singles championships at the U.S. Open, most recently in 2014. In her five appearances at the hard-court tournament in New York since then, she has made it to the final twice — losing to Naomi Osaka in 2018 and Bianca Andreescu in 2019 — and the semifinals three other times, including last year.
Her best-in-the-game serve and powerful groundstrokes have allowed Serena to remain among the title contenders at the biggest tournaments, especially on hard courts and grass.
This season, she was a semifinalist at the Australian Open in February, before losing to eventual champion Osaka there. At the French Open, played on red clay, Serena lost in the fourth round to Elena Rybakina.
At Wimbledon, Serena was serving while leading 3-1 in her opening match when her left shoe seemed to lose its traction while she was hitting a forehand and her right leg flexed awkwardly.
She tried to continue but eventually needed to stop playing, only the second mid-match retirement of her Grand Slam career and first since 1998.