Osaka, Venus Williams pull out of Australian Open

Two-time champion Nao­mi Osaka has pulled out of the Australian Open, organisers of the season’s first Grand Slam which begins on January 16, announced yester­day, without elaborating on the reason.

The Japanese former World No 1’s name was on the entry list for the Australian Open, but Osaka was not scheduled to play in warm-up tournaments in Adelaide and Hobart, raising doubts about her participation in the hardcourt major.

 “Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Australian Open. We will miss her at #AO2023,” the Australian Open tweeted. “Dayana Yastremska moves into the main draw.”

Osaka, the 2019 and 2021 Melbourne Park champion, has not played on the WTA Tour since pulling out of her match against Beatriz Haddad Maia in the Pan Pacific Open second round in To­kyo in September due to illness.

Her withdrawal comes a day after American seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams was ruled out of the Australian Open due to injury in a double blow to the organisers.

Osaka, who has slipped to 42 in the world rankings, had taken a break to prioritise her mental health after skipping the 2021 French Open and later said that she was battling depression.

In a related development, seven-time Grand Slam cham­pion Venus Williams also pulled out of this month’s Australian Open due to injury, the organ­isers said on Saturday. -Sky Sports

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