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Five-time singles champion Venus Williams has been forced to pull out of Wimbledon due to a back injury.
The 33-year-old has struggled recently with the problem, particularly on the clay courts, and was knocked out of the French Open in the opening round by Urszula Radwanska.
Williams hasn’t played since withdrawing from the doubles at Roland Garros with her sister Serena and has decided to not risk aggravating the problem by playing at SW19 when the tournament gets underway on June 24.
The American has become increasingly injury prone in recent years as well as battling the auto-immune disease Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Williams had climbed back into 34th place in the rankings on the back of two semi-final appearances on the WTA tour and has not missed a game at Wimbledon since her debut in 1997 ? winning the title in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
She suffered her first opening-round defeat last year since her debut in 1997 to Elena Vesnina but then won the doubles title for a fifth time with Serena.
Speaking about her injury, Williams said: “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in Wimbledon this year.
“I am extremely disappointed as I have always loved The Championships, but I need to take time to let my back heal.
“I look forward to returning to the courts as soon as possible, with my goal being to return to Mylan World Team Tennis on July 8th in Washington DC.
“Many thanks to my fans for the love and support and I will be seeing you very soon back on the courts.”