Venus Williams bows out in first round of women’s singles at US Open
This image released by NBC Sports shows Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrates her victory over Caroline Garcia during their U.S. Open women’s singles final match at USTA National Tennis Center in New York. (AP Photo/NBC Sports, Frank Micelotta)
NEW YORK (AP) — Venus Williams on Wednesday withdrew from her first-round match against Dominika Cibulková, handing another bright tennis star an early opportunity to claim the top prize at the U.S. Open.
Williams, who has won five major singles titles on the women’s side, didn’t announce the withdrawal in the press room at the USTA National Tennis Center. She gave no reason, such as a foot injury, a head injury or the flu. She did not discuss the withdrawal during the final interview of a grueling day at the US Open.
Cibulková, ranked No. 4 in the world, is a 20-year-old from the Czech Republic. She defeated Williams 6-3, 6-4 Wednesday night.
Williams is the first American woman to reach the final at the U.S. Open in 25 years. Maria Sharapova won the title in 2000 at the age of 19. Williams, who was born in Cincinnati and raised in St. Louis, has won a record five majors and now holds the record for most career tour titles at 35.
“I would like to thank my family, especially my coach, Ed Stolle (Williams’ longtime coach at Stanford University), and my mom. Without them, I would be nowhere,” Williams said.
During an interview on the eve of her match Tuesday, Williams said she couldn’t remember what it was like to walk onto the court. She also didn’t know if she would do a walk-through press conference or a question-by-question interview until moments before she was about to announce her withdrawal.
Williams and Cibulková fought back and forth during their match, with Williams’ return to her forehand landing her often on the defensive and Cibulková making a number of unforced errors. Williams was leading 4-3 in the third set when Cibulková double-fault