PARIS – Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has canceled her participation in the French Open ahead of her third-round match on Saturday due to illness.
“I just wanted to give 100% and obviously I’m far from 100%,” Rybakina said. “If I can’t breathe, I have no chance at all of running and competing.”
The No. 4-seeded Rybakina was scheduled to take on 132nd-placed Sara Sorribes Tormo in the opening contest of the day on Court Philippe Chatrier.
They were supposed to start the game at 11:45 local time, but that’s when Rybakina took the microphone at a press conference to explain why she was withdrawing from the second Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Rybakina sounded overwhelmed, explaining that she had a fever, hadn’t slept well for the past two nights and had trouble breathing during a warm-up session on Saturday before her game. She said a doctor told her there was a virus circulating “here in Paris.”
Rybakina, who won each of her first two games this week in straight sets, was considered one of the top contenders for the Roland Garros championship. She has won her last 10 matches including a tuning title on red clay at the Italian Open last month.
She plays a powerful game based in part on one of the best serves on the WTA Tour, which she leads in aces this season.
Last July, Rybakina won her first major trophy when she defeated Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon final.
Rybakina is a 23-year-old Moscow-born who has represented Kazakhstan since 2018 when the country offered her funds to support her tennis career. The move was a talking point at Wimbledon as the All England Club banned athletes representing Russia or Belarus from the 2022 tournament due to the war in Ukraine.
The walkover allows 26-year-old Sorribes Tormo to advance to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career.