LONDON (Reuters) -Defending champion Simona Halep pulled out of Wimbledon on Friday after failing to recover from a calf injury she suffered last month, the world number three Romanian said.
In May Halep exited the claycourt event in Rome after suffering a calf injury during her second-round match against Angelique Kerber and was subsequently forced to miss the French Open.
“It is with great sadness that I’m announcing my withdrawal from The Championships as my calf injury has not fully recovered,” the 29-year-old, who won the title when Wimbledon was last held in 2019, said on Instagram.
“I gave it everything I had in order to be ready to play Wimbledon and after having such special memories from two years ago, I was excited and honoured to step back on these beautiful courts as defending champion.
“Unfortunately, my body didn’t cooperate and I’ll have to save that feeling for next year.”
Halep was denied a chance to defend her title when Wimbledon was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She joins world number two Naomi Osaka in withdrawing from the grasscourt Grand Slam with the Japanese also skipping Wimbledon following her withdrawal from Roland Garros due to mental health issues.
In their absence, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka will climb up to be the number two seed behind top-ranked Australian Ash Barty with the singles draw for both men and women to be held later on Friday.
“I can honestly say that I’m really down and upset about having to take this decision,” Halep added. “This period has been difficult but to miss the last two majors has made it even more challenging mentally and physically.
“We will see what the future holds but I’m hoping it will make me a stronger person and athlete.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Toby Davis)