ROME, Italy – Two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova has been forced to withdraw from the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome because of an ongoing problem with her right shoulder.
A three-time winner in the Italian capital, the WTA World No.28 will be replaced in the main draw by Viktoria Kuzmova, whose place in qualifying will, in turn, be taken by Viktorija Golubic.
Sharapova has been struggling with the issue for several months, having been forced to pull out of St Petersburg at the end of January citing a problem with the joint.
The following month, she revealed via Instagram: “As many of you know, I have struggled with shoulder pain since last summer. For ten weeks post US Open, I focused on getting my rotator cuff and scapula strong to support a surgically repaired fraying tendon and a small labrum tear. Although my shoulder got strong, it didn't help the pain on impact.
“After a few different opinions in a few different countries, last week I had a small procedure done which will take a few weeks to heal. Although this has been a very long process, I am incredibly committed to getting back strong and more importantly without the pain I was playing with at the beginning of the year.”
The 32-year-old, who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, was last victorious in this tournament back in 2015, when she defeated Carla Suárez-Navarro, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Only a year ago, she was beaten in the semifinals by Simona Halep over three thrilling sets.
This year's tournament will run from May 13-19.
Meanwhile, the Mutua Madrid Open, which begins on May 4, has been hit by a couple of withdrawals. Teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu, the WTA World No.23, will not play following a five-week layoff to rest a shoulder injury and instead intends to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca.
“It’s been a long break so we need to go slowly and surely and smartly about it, which is what he intend to do,” coach Sylvain Bruneau, who did not rule out her participation in Nurnberg or Strasbourg, told Canadian Press. “Then hopefully we’ll build over the next couple weeks and get her ready to play and perform in Paris.”
Also withdrawing from Madrid is WTA World No.30 Camila Giorgi, who has failed to overcome a wrist injury.