US Open women’s draw suffers double blow as Venus Williams gets new first-round opponent

Shahida Jacobs
Paula Badosa takes a break
Paula Badosa in action

The 2023 US Open has already lost two big stars before the tournament has started as former champion Bianca Andreescu and Paula Badosa have pulled out due to injury.

Andreescu, who won the title in 2019, has struggled with a stress fracture in her back since the Canadian Open and she was also forced to sit out the Cincinnati Open.

She had high hopes of being fit for the season-ending Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows, but the event came a little too soon and, as a result, announced her withdrawal on Saturday.

The Canadian was due to take on Lesia Tsurenko in the first round, but the Ukrainian will now face French qualifier Elsa Jacquemot in her opener.

Meanwhile, Badosa has also struggled with a stress fracture in the L4 vertebra since May and although she attempted a comeback at Wimbledon, she retired during her second-round match and hasn’t played any competitive matches since then.

The Spaniard was due to face seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in the first round, but she has decided to not only withdraw from the hard-court Grand Slam, but also end her 2023 season early.

“I wanted to update you on my situation with my injury… After struggling for many months to compete again, I am ending my season,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Those of you who know me know how much I like to compete and how difficult it has been to make this decision. We have tried everything together with my team but the pain is not letting me move forward.

“Thanks to the people who are still by my side in these hard times. See you next year, stronger than ever.”

Badosa’s place in the draw was taken by lucky loser Kimberly Birrell from Australia while wildcard Williams will now face qualifier Greet Minnen in the first round.

The 43-year-old Williams herself had a difficult build-up to the US Open as she withdrew from her first-round match against 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva at the Tennis In The Land tournament last week due to a knee injury.

“Unfortunately, my knee is just not acting right. It’s not supporting me being on the court,” the tennis great said, but insisted she was determined to be fit for the season-ending Grand Slam in New York.

The American will have a few more days to recover as she is only schedule to play on Wednesday.

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