London: World No. 1 Serena Williams has pulled out of next month’s German Open to rest and prepare for the rest of the European season, the WTA Tour said on Tuesday.
Her decision to skip the $1.26 million Berlin tournament, which begins on May 5, means the 21-year-old’s next scheduled event is the $1.3 million Telecom Italia Masters, beginning on May 12, in Rome, Italy.
“After playing so many matches at the beginning of 2003, I have decided to take an additional week off to prepare for the European season,” said Williams, who reached the final in Berlin last year where she lost in three sets to Belgium’s Justine Henin-Hardenne.
“My focus right now is to prepare myself both mentally and physically for the upcoming major events in May and June.
“I regret that I will not be returning to the German Open in 2003 where I have had so much success, but I do look forward to returning to Rome.”
Williams lost to Henin-Hardenne in the final of Charleston’s Family Circle Cup last weekend — the first defeat of the year for the American. The world No. 1 surrendered a 21-match winning streak with Sunday’s defeat in South Carolina.
However, Venus Williams confirmed she would be taking part in the meet. “Well, at least her sister Venus will be coming,” a spokeswoman for the German Open said.
She said tournament director Eberhard Wensky learned of Serena’s withdrawal on Tuesday evening but heard of the confirmation of world No. 3 Venus at the same time.
Earlier this week Berlin organisers awarded Anna Kournikova a wildcard for the claycourt event. Kournikova, who has dropped out of the top 60 , would not have qualified for the main draw.