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Serena?s Indian winter ends even before start

india Updated: Feb 11, 2007 06:03 IST

Serena Williams won't be fined for pulling out of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour Bangalore Open.

The timing and the circumstances of her pull-out exempt her from the WTA Tour's withdrawal fines.

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour told the Hindustan Times on Saturday that there are no fines, not even mandatory ones, for pull-outs caused by injury or sickness. Serena is suffering from the flu.

The Tour also said that the former world No. 1 and reigning Australian Open champion had informed organizers about her decision "well in time."

Main draw matches of the $175,000 event begin on Monday. Serena, who was to be accorded the status of a state guest,   said in a statement, "I am very disappointed to have to withdraw from the Sony Ericsson International in Bangalore, which I was really looking forward to participating in. Unfortunately, I caught a bad flu and am too sick to compete.

"I hope to be able to play in and see the incredible culture of India in the future. I also very much appreciate the honour of being named a State Guest and want to personally thank Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy."

The dominant player in women's tennis at the start of the decade, Serena is on a comeback trail from injuries. She won January's Australian Open as an unseeded player and improved her ranking from No. 82 to No. 15. It was her eighth Grand Slam title.

Tournament Director and Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) Hon. Secretary Sundar Raju said, "Naturally, we are disappointed that Serena will not be coming to Bangalore. Unfortunately, illness and injury are a fact of life in professional sports and we wish Serena a speedy recovery."

The onus of sustaining interest in the tournament is now upon India's Sania Mirza. Fifteen players from the top-100 are competing in the event. These include Australia's Alicia Molik and defending champion Mara Santangelo of Italy.

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