'Painful': Tennis fans saddened by Serena and Venus Williams news

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·Sports Editor
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  • Williams sisters
    Doubles partnership between Venus and Serena Williams
  • Venus Williams
    Venus Williams
    American professional tennis player
  • Sofia Kenin
    Sofia Kenin
    American tennis player
Venus and Serena Williams, pictured here at the US Open in 2018.
Venus and Serena Williams at the US Open in 2018. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Tennis fans were left disappointed on Wednesday when Serena and Venus Williams joined a long list of top players in skipping the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The US Open lead-up event is missing some serious star power, with the Williams sisters and former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin the latest to withdraw.

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Serena announced that she's still recovering from the leg injury that saw her retire hurt in the first round at Wimbledon.

"Unfortunately, I will not be playing in the Western & Southern Open next week as I am still in recovery from my leg injury at Wimbledon," the two-time champion said in a tournament press release.

"I will miss all of my fans in Cincinnati whom I look forward to seeing every summer. I plan to be back on the court very soon."

The 23-time grand slam champion said she will instead focus on being healthy as she aims for a record-tying 24th title in Flushing Meadows later this month.

The tournament did not give a reason for why her sister and seven-time grand slam winner Venus had withdrawn.

World No.4 Kenin also announced that she had made the "difficult decision" not compete at the venerable Premier 5 event, which is also known as the Cincinnati Open.

"I am rehabbing well in hopes to play the US Open later this month," said the 2020 Australian Open champion.

"I feel another week of recovery is necessary. 

Sofia Kenin, pictured here in action against Maria Sakkari at the French Open.
Sofia Kenin in action against Maria Sakkari at the French Open. (Photo by Tnani Badreddine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

"I want to thank the USTA for all their efforts in holding the event during such challenging times. Best of luck to all the players."

The field in Cincinnati still boasts World No.1 and reigning Wimbledon champion Ash Barty, four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka, and reigning French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.

Two-time and defending champion Victoria Azarenka and past Cincinnati champions Madison Keys (2019), Garbine Mugurza (2017) and Karolina Pliskova (2016) will also compete at the outdoor hard-court event.

But fans were saddened that they'll have to wait a little longer to see Serena and Venus back in action.

Novak Djokovic announces withdrawal from Cincinnati

On the men's side, World No.1 Novak Djokovic also announced his withdrawal on Monday.

Djokovic can become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in one year if he triumphs at the US Open.

But he will head to the final major of the year without playing a traditional warmup tournament after also withdrawing from the Toronto hard-court event.

Djokovic said he suffered multiple injuries while missing out on a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

"I am taking a bit longer to recover and recuperate after quite a taxing journey from Australia to Tokyo," Djokovic posted on social media.

"Sadly, that means I won't be ready to compete in Cincinnati this year.

"So I'll turn my focus and attention to US Open and spend some more time with family. See you in New York soon!"

Fellow 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer will also be missing as he recovers from a recurrence of a knee injury.

Federer is skipping both Toronto and Cincinnati and remains in serious doubt to play the US Open.

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