'Great sadness': Tennis fans shattered over Simona Halep news
Tennis fans have been left shattered after defending Wimbledon champion Simona Halep announced her withdrawal from the tournament overnight.
The 29-year-old toppled Serena Williams in a stunning final back in 2019, but a calf injury has forced her to forfeit the chance to defend the title.
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Halep had previously missed the French Open after tearing her calf back in May.
She had been hoping to recover in time for Wimbledon, but reluctantly announced her decision on Instagram.
The world No.3 said she 'gave it everything' to recover in time to launch a title defence.
"It is with great sadness that I'm announcing my withdrawal from The Championships as my calf injury has not fully recovered," Halep posted on Instagram.
"I gave it everything I had in order to be ready to play Wimbledon and after having such special memories from 2 years ago, I was excited and honoured to step back on these beautiful courts as defending champion.
"Unfortunately, my body didn't cooperate and I'll have to save that feeling for next year."
Halep won her first grand slam title at Roland Garros in 2018 and had been thought of as a player most likely to thrive on slower surfaces prior to her brilliant run at the All England Club in 2019.
The world No.3 is the latest big name to withdraw from the grasscourt slam and joins Naomi Osaka, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem in missing the championships.
She will be replaced as second seed, behind world No.1 Ash Barty, by Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.
"I can honestly say that I'm really down and upset about having to take this decision," Halep said.
"This period has been difficult, but to miss the last two majors has made it even more challenging mentally and physically.
"We will see what the future holds, but I'm hoping it will make me a stronger person and athlete."
This is devastating news, l am gutted, l was looking forward to see you at Wimbledon, defending your title. I dont even know if l ll watch it now...l live close to Wimbledon and l wanted to go around there, see if l can see you- stalker much.
— Alexandra Bulata (@AlexandraBulata) June 25, 2021
So sorry you won't be able to defend your title Simona. Wishing you a full recovery and a return to action as soon as you are ready!
— Fantasy Tennis League (@FantasyTennisL1) June 25, 2021
Sad/sorry to hear! 😔
But truly and wholly support your decision! 💯 👍 Your well-being is just as important! 👌
Wish you the very best with recovering quickly! 🙏 Take care of yourself champ! 👍
Stay safe and strong! 🙏 💚
— Nelson Tsang (@Nelsonator9000) June 25, 2021
So sorry to hear. I always love to watch your strong play and deep competitiveness. You are my favorite player on the WTA tour, can't wait to see you back healthy and ready to go. Take care.
— Dennis Diaz (@DennisNYR19) June 25, 2021
So sorry to hear @Simona_Halep .
I do hope you get better soon.
— Michelle Steel (@MichelleSteel9) June 25, 2021
Barty's Wimbledon nod to Goolagong Cawley
Meanwhile, Barty will pay a poignant tribute to her idol as Evonne Goolagong Cawley and John Newcombe celebrate 50 years since completing one of Australia's most iconic sporting doubles.
It's been half a century since Goolagong Cawley and Newcombe both hoisted the Wimbledon singles trophies in a feat no Australian pair has managed since.
Fittingly, an inspired Barty will wear the same-style dress, specially designed by both players' sponsor FILA, that Goolagong Cawley donned en route to the title at the All England Club in 1971 when she lines up as women's top seed for this year's championships starting on Monday.
The 25-year-old Barty is only Australia's second world No.1 since her Indigenous hero, friend and mentor Goolagong Cawley scaled the summit in 1976.
"It's hard to put into words how much of an impact Evonne has had on the culture of tennis in Australia and on me personally. I don't think there is anyone more iconic in our sport," Barty said.
"I am very proud to wear this commemorative collection from Fila in celebration not only of her momentous victories on the court, but also her incredible legacy off of it."
The tribute has touched the legendary graceful serve-and-volleyer.
"Wow, it just blows my mind," Goolagong Cawley said.
"What a wonderful thing to do, what a wonderful honour. It's truly fantastic."
Then only 19, Goolagong Cawley clubbed defending champion Margaret Court 6-4 6-1 in the final to claim the first of her seven grand slam singles titles.
She returned to capture a second title as a mother in 1980, with Goolagong Cawley and three-time champion Court remaining all these years later the only two Australian women to win Wimbledon.
Barty is a slight favourite over Serena Williams to break the long drought this year.
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