In this file photo taken on September 10, 2020, Serena Williams of the US has her ankle retaped in the third set during her Women’s Singles semi-final match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Day Eleven of the 2020 US Open in the Queens borough of New York City. Photo: AFP/ Matthew Stockman / Getty Images North America

Serena Williams withdrew from the WTA clay-court tournament that begins Monday in Rome due to a left Achilles tendon injury sustained in her US Open semi-final defeat, the tour announced Saturday.

Williams, chasing her record-tying 24th Grand Slam single crown, lost to Victoria Azarenka in three sets on Thursday on the Arthur Ashe Stadium hardcourt.

The former world number one, a four-time Rome champion, joins 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova is skipping the tune-up for the French Open, which begins on September 27.

“I regretfully must withdraw from the Internazionali BNL d’Italia due to an Achilles strain,” Williams said in a statement.

“I’m so humbled by the continuous support from my fans in Rome and I look forward to making my return soon.”

Williams took a medical timeout in her New York loss to have the Achilles injury treated.

“I just was stretching,” she said after the match. “I ran for a shot, and off that first step that I took, it was a long point. It wasn’t my ankle; it was actually my Achilles. It just overstretched. It was pretty intense. Then that was that.”

Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty withdrew from Rome earlier in the week, the Australian star saying she would shut down her season due to coronavirus concerns and travel restrictions. – AFP