Multiple-time Grand Slam champions Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber announced their respective withdrawals from the Tokyo Olympics tennis tournament on Thursday.
In addition to her two Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013, Azarenka has also won two Olympic medals for Belarus. She won a women’s singles bronze medal and a mixed doubles gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London.
In an Instagram post, Azarenka, 31, mentioned that like many other athletes who withdrew, her primary concern about participating in the Olympics was the Covid-19 pandemic. “I have many amazing memories (of) winning the gold while competing and representing Belarus in previous Games, but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know in my heart this is the right decision for myself and team,” she wrote.
Azarenka added, “I look forward to returning to the 2024 Olympics in Paris to represent Belarus! I wish all my fellow athletes a safe, healthy, and successful Games.”
Kerber is a three-time Grand Slam champion. She won the Australian Open and US Open in 2016 as well as Wimbledon in 2018. In the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Kerber, 33, won a silver medal in women’s singles for Germany.
According to a tweet, Kerber cited fatigue as the main reason for her withdrawal. “Representing Germany in London in 2012 and Rio 2016 … has always been (some) of my favourite memories of my career so far,” she wrote. “This makes it even more disappointing for me to accept the fact that my body needs rest after the intense few weeks that lie behind me and that I have to recover first before returning to competition later this summer!”
“Thank you for your support, as this has been a very difficult decision for me. Good luck to all my fellow German athletes in Tokyo #TeamDeutschland, I will miss you.”
Other Tennis Players to Have Withdrawn
A large number of tennis players have chosen to withdraw from the Olympics. In addition to Azarenka and Kerber, some of the players who have done so include Serena Williams, Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer, Bianca Andreescu, Denis Shapovalov, Rafael Nadal, and Sofia Kenin.
Many players cited extremely strict Covid-19 restrictions as the reason for their withdrawals. Others claimed that they had no interest in playing a tournament in front of an empty stadium. The Tokyo Olympics will be held without any spectators.
Commenting on his own withdrawal, Shapovalov said, “Obviously I want to play the Olympics, I want to represent my country. It’s a dream for me, but it’s really tough with these restrictions. It puts a lot of pressure on you.”
“It was a lot to do with the restrictions, being in the bubble again, this whole situation. It’s not easy mentally for anybody. That was a big part of the decision.”
16th July 2021 13:02
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