Sports News Roundup — June 18 (
After 16 consecutive years of always showing up at Wimbledon, winning five titles along the way, Venus Williams pulled out of the grass-court Grand Slam tournament, citing a lower back injury.
Williams, who turned 33 on Monday, never had missed Wimbledon since making her debut there in 1997, although she lost in the first round a year ago. She won the singles trophy — it happens to be called the Venus Rosewater Dish — in 2000-01, 2005 and 2007-08, to go with two more major championships at the U.S. Open in 2000-01.
But Williams has been dealing with a bad back for a while, playing only three matches in the last two-plus months. She was clearly hampered by the injury during a three-set, three-hour loss to 40th-ranked Urszula Radwanska of Poland in the first round of the French Open last month, then cited her back when she and younger sister Serena withdrew from the doubles competition in Paris.
The older Williams said after the singles loss at Roland Garros — her first opening-round exit there in a dozen years — that the inflammation in her back made it painful to serve hard, limiting one of the best parts of her game. Once ranked No. 1, Williams is currently No. 34. She has two first-round losses in the past four Grand Slam tournaments. That includes her defeat at Wimbledon last year.
6/18/2013 11:34 PM EDT