|Venus Williams hits a return to Tsvetana Pironkova at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, England, June 27, 2011. (SUZANNE PLUNKETT/Reuters)
TORONTO - Venus Williams looked sick when she drew Ana Ivanovic as her first-round opponent in the Rogers Cup.
Now we know why. And it had nothing to do with trying to end her winless-in-Canada streak against Ivanovic, the world's best player as recently as three and a half years ago.
Williams withdrew from the Rogers Cup Sunday night, citing a viral illness that hit her earlier in the day.
"I was really excited to play Toronto," Williams said. "I came here ready to go and was practicing. I wasn't feeling very well and had to see the doctor (Sunday). I was diagnosed with a viral illness and unfortunately am unable to play.
"I am extremely disappointed. I'm very sorry to the fans and tournament."
Williams, unseeded in Toronto and ranked 34th in the world after an injury and illness plagued year, was scheduled to play Ivanovic on Tuesday. Instead, qualifier Zhang Shuai will take her place in the main draw. Lucky loser Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain .
The withdrawl of Williams is a blow to the tournament. The world's top 25 players are entered but Williams is one of the biggest names in tennis despite her ranking.
"We are disappointed by Venus's illness but our Rogers Cup fans got to see her on site at Rexall Centre for our official draw and celebrity tennis events," tournament director Karl Hale said. "We wish Venus a speedy recovery and look forward to an exciting week of tennis at the Rogers Cup with WTA stars like Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters."