Ash Barty has withdrawn from the US Open over fears of travelling during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a massive blow to the grand slam event, the world No. 1 is the biggest name yet to drop out because of the global heath crisis.
The tournament is due to take place from August 31 to September 13.
“My team and I have decided that we won’t be travelling to the US and Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year,” Barty said on Thursday.
“I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.
“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and I look forward to being back in the US next year.
Barty is still weighing up whether to resume her season in Europe and ultimately try to defend her French Open crown in Paris.
The clay court major was rescheduled from May-June to a September 27 start.
“I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks.”
The 24-year-old was among a raft of big names to express concerns about the US Open going ahead as planned in the same annual timeslot despite Flushing Meadows at one stage being used as an emergency hospital for the outbreak.
Men’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic and defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal were also doubtful starters but both have since entered the Southern and Western Open, which has been moved from Cincinnati to New York where USTA officials will create a biosecurity hub for three weeks.
But women’s world No.2 Simona Halep, 2018 winner Naomi Osaka and defending champion Bianca Andreescu have not entered the Southern and Western Open, which starts on August 15.