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Injured Serena pulls out

ROME (AFP) – Serena Williams withdrew from the Italian Open on Tuesday with a recurring left knee injury handing sister Venus a walkover into the third round.

In Tuesday’s statement the 23-time Grand Slam winner insisted she would still be competing in the French Open later this month.

“I must withdraw from the Italian Open due to pain in my left knee,” Serena said in a statement.

“I will miss the fans and competition at one of my favourite tournaments. I’ll be concentrating on rehab and look forward to seeing you all at the French Open and next year in Rome.”

The French Open starts on May 26.

Serena’s withdrawal comes a day after she beat Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in straight sets to set up a second round meeting with her older sister Venus.

She had been returning after more than two months out with a knee problem, in the final warm-up clay-court tournament before the French Open.

Four-time Rome winner Serena, 37, had eased through 6-4, 6-2 her first round match against Swedish qualifier Petersen.

ZVEREV FALLS
Meantime, Germany’s Alexander Zverev crashed out of the Italian Open on Tuesday with a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Italian wild card Matteo Berrettini in the second round.

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