London, June 25 (UNI): Defending champion Simona Halep pulled out of this year’s Wimbledon on Friday after failing to recover from a calf injury.
The 29-year-old last competed at the Italian Open in Rome in May where she pulled out of her match against Angelique Kerber in the second set with the injury, a setback that also cost her a chance to play Roland Garros.
“It is with great sadness that I’m announcing my withdrawal from The Championships as my calf injury has not fully recovered,” said Halep in a post 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,” she added.
The World No. 3 Halep did not get 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 grass court 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.
“I can honestly say that I’m really down and upset about having to take this decision,” Halep said.
“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,” she added.
In 2019, Halep played a near-flawless final against Serena Williams, where she became the first Romanian woman to win Wimbledon. This came a year after she won Roland Garros, her first major title.
The Wimbledon is set to start from Monday.