Serena Williams will miss the Mutua Madrid Open due to the flu. The world number one’s recent health issues leave now left the Italian Open in doubt as well as the French Open. Serena was the Madrid Open champion in 2012 and 2013. In a statement on the WTA website, Serena said, "Unfortunately, I have to withdraw from Madrid because I've been battling the flu and I'm not at 100%. I look forward to returning soon." With this, every player now moves up one seed in the draw.
Biggest Beneficiaries of Serena’s Withdrawal
Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka, and Sloane Stephens are all helped with Serena’s withdrawal. Radwanska is now the top seed in the tournament with Kerber on the opposite half. Azarenka is now in her own quarter as she was originally seeded fifth. Finally, Sloane Stephens was originally unseeded until the announcement of Serena’s withdrawal. Thanks to that, the American moved from potentially facing anyone in the draw to now being “protected” as the first seed she’ll be facing will be in the third round.
Serena’s Injuries a Concern
Since her loss to Roberta Vinci in the 2015 US Open semifinal, Serena has only played in three major events, the Australian Open, the BNP Paribas Open, and the Miami Open. The American also played in the Hopman Cup but did not finish the event due to a knee injury. Injuries and illnesses have hampered the world number one. After the Australian Open, the flu bug hit Serena once again, forcing her to withdraw from tournaments in the Middle East.
Serena is the defending champion of the French Open and still should be the favorite but has to play at least in Rome before, or there will be serious doubts about her ability to defend the title. The world number one remains one Grand Slam title away from tying Steffi Graf’s mark of 22 Grand Slam titles.