WTA organisers were dealt a blow on Sunday as seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams withdrew from the pre-Australian Open event after losing a final in New Zealand at the weekend to Ana Ivanovic.

Williams (33) pulled out to rest before next Monday’s start of the grand slam in Melbourne.

“After a long week during my first tournament of the year, my body needs time to rest and recover,” the number 47 said. “Unfortunately, I am not able to play this week in Hobart. I sincerely do hope to play there in the coming years.” Williams, a former number one who now plays a shadow of her former game, last won a title in October, 2012, and claimed her last major title six years ago.

“I know it was a hard decision and we wish her the best of luck for the Australian Open,” tournament director Mark Handley told local media.

Williams was sighted at Melbourne Park on Sunday as she prepared for a week of private training.

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