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Serena Williams

The 2015 Italian Open has given us its fair share of surprises.

In a shock admission on his Twitter account, Scottish tennis prodigy Andy Murray told his 3 million followers on 14th May: “Warming up today I didn’t feel able to compete. I hope next year I can comeback to Rome and do better. Sorry Andy [sic]”

The World No.3 had previously tweeted to his fans about his fatigue, but while fans over in Britain will be lamenting the loss of their champion, spectators across the pond are also mourning the loss of another champion: Serena Williams.

Just two days after cruising past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-3, sources have confirmed that Williams has now withdrawn herself from the tournament for reasons that are as yet unknown.

The World No.1 will doubtless have been feeling the pressure recently after failing to beat Petra Kvitova in the Madrid Open semi-finals. Clearly, she had a point to prove, but after making it through to the next stage along with Maria Sharapova, it’s unclear as to how the tournament will fare without the world renowned Serena.

Doubtless the 33-year-old has been working tirelessly throughout 2015 and has had no end of media attention. Back in February, the spotlight was on her when she made the brave choice to return to Indian Wells, 14 years after suffering racist taunts from the audience. In a blog for Time Magazine, Williams recounted her experiences with her sister Venus, saying: “We were outsiders. As a black tennis player, I looked different. I sounded different. I dressed differently. I served differently.”

After her triumphant return, she made headlines once again recently this month when it was announced that she would be launching her own Masterclass to help aspiring tennis players train. Williams’ 10-class package is now available online for $90 and features videos of the star re-enacting world-class tennis techniques.

While Williams is undoubtedly helping out people from all communities, having also worked to build secondary schools in Kenya in the past, one could ask if she is putting too much pressure on herself. She may have progressed at the same stage as Sharapova, but with six years on the Russian star, these high octane events may be proving a little too much for a 33-year-old.

Sources are currently speculating that she may have pulled out with an elbow injury, but it is likely that there are a number of other underlying causes. Williams’ best course of action for now would be to take some time out and make sure she is in a fit state, physically and mentally, to regain her athletic prowess this summer.

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