20 Dec 2011

Venus Williams withdraws from ASB Classic

11:39 am on 20 December 2011

Seven-time Grand Slam tennis champion Venus Williams has withdrawn from January's ASB Classic in Auckland because of health issues.

After playing a number of recent exhibition matches, Williams told her agent she was not ready to play in Auckland.

The former world number one has been receiving treatment for an autoimmune disease.

Tournament director Richard Palmer says it's disappointing to lose a player of her calibre.

Williams, ranked 103 in the world, had been given a wildcard to play in the ASB Classic.

Germany's Sabine Lisicki is the tournament's top seed followed by China's Peng Shuai, former world No. 2 and Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and Italy's Flavia Pennetta.