Tennis fans have been left devastated after Bianca Andreescu announced her withdrawal from the Australian Open in January.
The former US Open champion revealed the shock news on Monday, pointing to a challenging spell brought on by the Covid-19 outbreak.
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The 21-year-old said time spent isolating in quarantined hotels has taken a toll on her mentally and physically and that she did not feel like herself while training and playing matches.
"I felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders," Andreescu, who also said her grandmother spent weeks in ICU due to a Covid-19 infection, wrote on Twitter.
"I could not detach myself from everything that was going on off the court; was feeling the collective sadness and turmoil around and it took its toll on me.
"I want to give myself extra time to re-set, recover, and grow from this ... and continue to inspire by doing charity work, giving back and working on myself because I know by doing this I will come back stronger than ever.
"I will therefore not start my season in Australia this year but will take some additional time to reflect, train and be ready for the upcoming 2022 tennis season."
Tennis fans saddened by Bianca Andreescu news
Andreescu has twice competed at the Australian Open in Melbourne, losing in the second round in 2019 and 2021.
The 21-year-old became Canada's first grand slam singles champion with her triumph at the 2019 US Open triumph when she beat Serena Williams in the final.
However the youngster has endured a brutal run of injuries ever since, starting with a knee problem at that year's WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
The hard-hitting Canadian withdrew from this year's Tokyo Olympics, a decision she put down to all the challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She last competed on the WTA Tour in October at Indian Wells, where her title defence ended in the third round against Anett Kontaveit.
She did not specify when she would return.
The tennis world was left saddened by the news but fully supportive of Andreescu's focus on her mental health.
"Take care of yourself," tweeted Kim Clijsters.
The US Open's official account wrote: "We can't wait to see you back on court."
Take care of yourself ! ❤️
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) December 6, 2021
We can't wait to see you back on court 💙
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) December 6, 2021
I'm so sorry to hear what you've been going through but also grateful you felt you could share it with us. We love you. Take all the time you need.
— EAP (@parradelleode) December 6, 2021
I’m sure I speak for thousands of your fans, the fans of tennis and sports when I tell you: take the time you need Bianca! You’re another human being going through a tough moment so you like any other human, deserve the chance to fulfill your necessities. Our love comes to you!
— Cubano Libre (@GuajiroLibre) December 6, 2021
Oh great champion! Please do whatever you need to do. You are supported by most good Canadians like yourself! Best wishes Bianca Andreescu!
— RodMG (@Rodwings1) December 6, 2021
We love you BB. Take all the time you need. Can’t wait to see you back on the court, your game and attitude on court are needed and appreciated!
— AXEL (@axelwatson93) December 6, 2021
Wishing and sending you strength and love in this difficult time🙏❤️ Mental health is the most important thing, it’s definitely more important to get in the right place of mind first! Take your time, much love!💝
— bennet (@Vee16Queen) December 6, 2021
The build-up to the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year, has been overshadowed by speculation over whether men's World No.1 Novak Djokovic will take part.
It follows a decision by Australian officials to allow only fully-vaccinated players into the country.
The Australian Open went ahead this year but players were forced to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine, crowds were restricted and a five-day snap lockdown was called mid-event.
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