Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova of Russia pulled out of the US Open tennis championships, which begin on Monday, due to a leg injury, the 28-year-old said on Sunday.
Sharapova has not played a match since losing to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon semi-finals in July and withdrew from hard-court US Open warm-up tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati earlier in August, citing a right leg strain.
It marks the second time in three years that the 2006 champion has withdrawn from the year's last Grand Slam event. Her absence robs the US Open of some star power and a possible marquee showdown.
Sharapova, who has won each of the four grand slam tournaments during her career, was seeded to meet top-seeded American world number one Williams in the semi-finals. The 33-year-old Williams is campaigning to win a fourth US Open title in a row, a win that would give her a rare Grand Slam sweep of the year's four majors, also known as the calendar Grand Slam or the calendar Slam. The last time the feat was accomplished was by Steffi Graf in 1988.
The Russian, however, has not proven much of an obstacle to the big-serving Williams, who has beaten Sharapova in 18 of their 20 career meetings and has not lost to her in 11 years.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said on Sunday that Russian Daria Kasatkina is the lucky loser who will replace Sharapova in the main draw.