Serena Williams withdrew from the Madrid Open on Thursday, telling tournament organizers that she needed more time to train to be fit for the rest of the European clay-court season.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, missed 14 months during her pregnancy and after the birth of her daughter, Olympia, in September. Williams returned to the WTA tour in March at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., winning two matches before losing in the third round to her sister Venus Williams. Serena Williams then lost her opening match at her next event, the Miami Open, on March 21. She has not played a tournament since.
Williams, 36, won the Madrid tournament, a Premier Mandatory event on the tour, in 2012 and 2013. She told The New York Times last week that she would “definitely” play the tournament in Rome, which begins May 14, and the French Open, which would be her first Grand Slam event since beginning her comeback.
Last month, Ion Tiriac, the owner of the Madrid Open, criticized Williams’s age and weight when asked about the state of women’s tennis.
“Clearly there’s more to women’s tennis than me,” Williams said when told of Tiriac’s comment. “There’s a lot more, but I’ll have words with him, believe me, I’ll have words with him. It’s an ignorant comment, and it’s a sexist comment, and maybe he’s an ignorant man.”