It’s been a WTA season full of drama. But with so many of the compelling players now basically pulling the plug on the season because of injuries, it’s crawling to the finish line.
Most notably on Thursday, Serena Williams announced that she was pulling out of both Beijing (a Premier Mandatory tournament) next week, and then the WTA Finals in Singapore, the tour’s shining-star event.
“It’s no secret I’ve played injured most of the year — whether it was my elbow, my knee, or, in the finals moments after a certain match in Flushing, my heart. … I’m a fierce competitor. And I want to compete as well as I can, for as long as I can. So I am taking a proactive step and withdrawing from tournaments in Beijing and Singapore to properly address my health and take the time to heal.”
“This is a very difficult decision, but one ultimately made because of the love of the game. I plan to return to practicing and participating in exhibition matches later this year. And when I do, l will focus and focus and focus so I can continue my journey in this beautiful game,” Williams was quoted as saying in a story on the China Open website.
It wasn’t tough to see this coming; in an interview published on the ESPNW site, Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou pretty much hinted as such.
“…After this year and the three Grand Slams [she won in 2015], the question is how high her motivation is to play those tournaments. I don’t think she should play if the motivation is not really high,” Mouratoglou told Melissa Isaacson.
Maria Sharapova, who dealt with a leg injury this summer and retired in her first match at the Premier event in Wuhan this week because of a left arm injury, has also pulled out of Beijing. You’d have to think her participation in Singapore is also in doubt – or at the very least, if she does show up, her effort won’t be up to her high standards.
Lucie Safarova, who has been recovering from a bacterial infection, is also out of Beijing as are Ekaterina Makarova and Sabine Lisicki (out for the season), with injuries.
As well, Victoria Azarenka also appears to have pulled the plug on her season, withdrawing from Beijing and also the smaller event in Hong Kong the following week after retiring down 4-6, 0-1 to qualifier Johanna Konta in the second round in Wuhan. She likely wasn’t going to qualify for Singapore, even though she’s one of those players, once she gets it back on track, that you would expect to be a perennial.
As with Williams, there were definitely hints from Azarenka that this might be what would happen, although this is what she said after the Konta match.
“I think it’s manageable. I think I can manage it to be okay in Beijing,” Azarenka told the media in Wuhan.
But then …
“The important thing for me is to get my body fit 100 per cent, on a consistent basis. I have a lot of work to do. That’s why I think my mind is a little bit thinking too much for the next year because, you know, I have a plan what to do already in my off‑season. I guess that kind of distracts me a little bit.”
As of right now, Eugenie Bouchard is still entered in Beijing next week.