Williams withdraws from Australian Open tune-up semis

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) — Serena Williams withdrew from an Australian Open tuneup tournament citing a right shoulder injury yesterday within hours of setting up a semifinal match against top-ranked Ash Barty.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion usually doesn’t play in a tournament in the week before a Grand Slam event, but made an exception before the US Open last year and for this Australian Open because of all the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 39-year-old American was playing her first tournament since withdrawing from the French Open before her second-round match because of an Achilles tendon injury last October. She, like all players travelling into Australia for the tournament, had to quarantine for 14 days and had limited practice during that time.

With the year’s first major starting on Monday, Williams may be better resting.

She had three wins at the Yarra Valley Classic — one of six tournaments at Melbourne Park this week — culminating with a 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 win in a match tiebreaker over fellow American Danielle Collins yesterday.

Barty will also get a rest today after getting a walkover into the final, which has been pushed back by a day.

There were 70 matches on the order of play yesterday, an expanded programme a day after all matches in six tournaments were postponed so that 160 players and 507 people overall could isolate and undergo testing because a worker at a quarantine hotel returned a positive test. Tennis Australia said all tests were negative.