Dubai: Serena Williams, who captured her 19th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month while struggling with a persistent virus, has withdrawn from the Dubai Open, apparently suffering from the same ailment.
Williams’ achievement in those difficult circumstances in Melbourne was particularly remarkable, but the cost may be high and has been causing concern about the 33-year-old’s long-term health.
She has been suffering from a nagging cough since that triumph and was forced to sit out the second day of the United States’ 4-1 FedCup win over Argentina in Buenos Aires last weekend.
The World No 1 made it clear at the start of the year that she must restrict her schedule if she is to have a chance of winning the three more Grand Slam titles needed to reach Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22 - and her Dubai pull-out underlines her determination to do this.
It is, however, the second time in three years that Williams has pulled out of the Middle East tournament, something which may not help the American’s image in this region, especially as she has also failed to win it in four attempts.