Serena Williams is the latest big name to pull out of this year’s Miami Open, citing recent oral surgery.
Florida resident Williams, 39, pulled out on Monday (AEDT) in another blow to the prestigious event after Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer announced earlier that they would skip the tournament which begins on Tuesday.
Williams has won the event a record eight times, most recently in 2015.
“Miami is a special tournament for me because it’s my home,” she said in a statement.
“I am sad I won’t be able to see the incredible fans this year, but I look forward to coming back soon.”
Williams’ most recent match was a month ago at the Australian Open, where she lost to Naomi Osaka in the semi-final.
In an apparent signal this was her last appearance in Melbourne, with a hand on her heart she waved goodbye to an adoring crowd, and later abruptly left an emotional press conference when reporters asked about this touching moment to her fans.
Williams – who appeared guarded throughout the three-minute interview – was coy.
“I don’t know … if I ever say farewell I wouldn’t tell anyone,” she said.
“I don’t know … I’m done,” she said tearfully and then abruptly cut the conference short.
She later took to Instagram.
“I am so honoured to be able to play in front of you all,” she wrote.
“Your support -your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today. I am forever in debt and grateful to each and every single one of you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you.”
Williams is still planning to front Wimbledon in late June, hoping to secure her 24th grand slam win.
However, slam number 24 has proven elusive since winning the Australian Open while pregnant in 2017.
She’s made four major finals since, losing each in straight sets. And after going 21-4 in her first 25 grand slam finals, her final record sits at 2-6 since the 2015 US Open.