Serena Williams' stunning withdrawal amid 'disgusting' controversy

Serena Williams and Ion Tiriac, pictured here at the Madrid Open.
Serena Williams won't be playing the Madrid Open because of a nasty feud with Ion Tiriac. Image: Getty

Serena Williams has revealed her schedule for the upcoming clay-court season, and it includes one major detail.

The 23-time grand slam champion won't be playing at the Madrid Open amid an ugly controversy surrounding tournament director Ion Tiriac.

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Earlier this year the controversial Romanian billionaire suggested Williams was overweight, out of shape, and too old to compete at the highest level.

“At this age and the weight she is now, she does not move as easily as she did 15 years ago," he said in January.

"Serena was a sensational player. If she had a little decency, she would retire.”

The comments were widely condemned by fans and angered Williams' husband Alexis Ohanian.

“Safe to say no one gives a damn what Ion Țiriac thinks," he tweeted at the time, labelling Tiriac a "sexist clown".

Others described Tiriac's comments as “disgusting” and "offensive".

The furore reared its ugly head again at the Australian Open in February when Ohanian celebrated a win by his wife by again taking aim at Tiriac.

"Good thing no one listens to that racist sexist (clown emoji) Ion Tiriac," Ohanian wrote.

Serena Williams' daughter Alexis Olympia and husband Alexis Ohanian, pictured here in Adelaide.
Serena Williams' daughter Alexis Olympia and husband Alexis Ohanian. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

That comment prompted a response from Tiriac's son Alexandru, who expressed his "disbelief and disgust" in an open letter published on Twitter.

"I read your tweet with a mix of disbelief and disgust," the open letter read.

"The name Țiriac has a 70-year tradition in the world of sports and the gentleman you are referring to has written a few important chapters that have contributed to the book of tennis along these decades.

"From the player, to the coach, to the manager, to the tournament promoter, the respected person you are bad wording in these derogatory terms has and still is, at the age of 82, one of the strongest advocates of this sport.

"The respect he has for Mrs. Williams is tremendous, as it should be."

So far Williams is the only top-40 player not competing at the Madrid Open.

Ash Barty crowned Miami Open champion

Meanwhile, Ash Barty has reminded everyone why she's the best in the world with a brilliant victory over Bianca Andreescu to lift the Miami Open title in her first tournament outside Australia for over a year.

Canada's Andreescu had to retire with an ankle injury when 6-3 4-0 down in Saturday's final - but Queenslander Barty was already dismantling her outclassed opponent before the sad conclusion.

Barty, who spent last year out of competitive action back home during the pandemic, demonstrated her readiness for global tennis domination again with a superb all-court display to outplay the 2019 US Open champion.

Barty was on the way to what seemed an inevitable victory when Andreescu took a tumble, turning her right ankle when 2-0 down in the second set and having to call for the trainer at the end of the game when three-down.

She tried gamely to carry on with ankle strapped but, five points later, when the merciless Barty served an ace to go 4-0 up, the 20-year-old slumped to her haunches, broke down in tears and trudged to the net to concede after just 59 one-sided minutes.

Barty consoled the unfortunate Andreescu, who had not played at all in 2020 because of a knee injury, and admitted it had been a "brutal" way to have to win the final against a friend.

with AAP

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