March 8 (UPI) — Serena Williams announced Tuesday that she has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif., because of a knee injury.
As a result of her absence at that tournament, which begins play Wednesday, Williams will lose her No. 1 ranking, and No. 2 Angelique Kerber will return to the No. 1 spot.
There had been much anticipation about the battle for No. 1 that would take place at Indian Wells, but Kerber will now ascend to the top without hitting a ball.
Williams will also miss the Miami Open, which begins March 21, as a result of the left knee injury, which is believed to be the same injury that bothered her at last year’s U.S. Open.
“I have not been able to train due to my knees and am disappointed I cannot be there,” Williams said in a statement released by the tournament. “I will keep moving forward and continue to be positive. I look forward to being back as soon as I can.”
Williams, 35, won the Australian Open on Jan. 28 and regained the No. 1 ranking a few days later as a result. She has not played a tournament match since then.
She ended a 13-year boycott at Indian Wells two years ago, but had to default against Simona Halep because of a knee injury. Last year, Williams lost to Victoria Azarenka in the final.
Kerber will now be the No. 1 seed in the tournament, followed by No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, No. 3 Halep, No. 4 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 6 Garbine Muguruza, No. 7 Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 8 Madison Keys.
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