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Aryna Sabalenka withdraws from Wimbledon hours before first-round match

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka has pulled out of Wimbledon hours before her first round match with Emina Bektas.

Two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka revealed on Saturday there was a chance she could withdraw from the third major of 2024 due to an ongoing shoulder problem called teres major, which primarily affects her serve.

Sabalenka was set to be second on Court One but cut short her practice on Monday afternoon before All England Club organisers confirmed she had been forced to withdraw, with Erika Andreeva handed a place in the main draw as a lucky loser.

It blow open the women's draw, with world number three Sabalenka among the favourites to secure a maiden Wimbledon title.

"Heartbroken to have to tell you all that I won't be able to play the Championships this year," Sabalenka posted on her Instagram story.

"I tried everything to get myself ready but unfortunately my shoulder is not cooperating. I pushed myself to the limit in practice today to try my best, but my team explained that playing would only make things much worse.

"This tournament means so much to me and I promise I'll be back stronger than ever next year."

Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2021 and 2023 but missed the 2022 edition due to a ban on Belarusian and Russian players over the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The withdrawal of Sabalenka hands Andreeva, the older sister of French Open semi-finalist Mirra Andreeva, a place in the first round where she will take on American Bektas later on Monday.

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