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Serena Williams out of Wimbledon with flu
Posted: Friday June 18, 1999 05:11 PM
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Serena Williams is out of Wimbledon with what her father called a "terrible case of the flu." And sister Venus is also fighting the bug.
Serena's sudden sudden withdrawal Thursday scratched a possible showdown between the two sisters in the fourth round and left Wimbledon -- which begins Monday -- without a marquee player.
Serena, 17, was seeded No. 10 and replaced by Russian Anna Kournikova, who was the highest ranked player without a spot in the top 16. Kournikova will take Williams' place in the draw as the 17th-seeded player.
A year ago it was Kournikova -- another teenage tennis starlet -- who withdrew on the eve of the tournament with a sprained thumb.
Richard Williams described No. 6-seeded Venus -- who turned 19 on Thursday -- as feeling "a little sluggish" but hopeful of being at full strength for the two-week grass-court classic.
WTA Tour officials were shocked by the withdrawal after getting a brief statement from Wimbledon on Thursday saying only that Williams was ill and would not play.
Reached later by the WTA Tour, Williams said both girls had been fighting the flu and Serena had lost the battle.
"She [Serena] has a terrible case of the flu," Richard Williams told the WTA. "I took her to the doctor this morning and he told her it was best to rest and take it easy.
"Serena wanted to go to Wimbledon and give it a try ... but the doctor said again it was better if she rested.
"She's been sick for the last two or three days, but last night she had a bad fever and the doctor believes it will go on for at least a week.
"Venus is a little sluggish because they hang out a lot together, but we're hoping she'll be all right."
He said he didn't expect Serena to travel to England.
The Williams sisters also pulled out of doubles, where they were seeded No. 4. The sisters alawys play doubles together and Venus has been outspoken about not breaking up the partnership.
Wimbledon referee Alan Mills hardly seemed rattled by the last-minute changes.
"It's the last thing we needed, but we'll deal with it," he said. "We've done it before."
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