Former medalists Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber have become the latest tennis stars to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
31-year-old Azarenka won the Belarusian bronze medal in a single and the gold medal in a mixed double at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Kerber, 33, won the silver medal in the German singles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Azarenka announced her decision on Instagram, citing the “challenge” of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have a lot of great memories of playing against Belarus in a previous tournament and winning a gold medal on behalf of me, but given all the challenges I face in relation to the pandemic, this is the right decision for myself and my team. I know it from the bottom of my heart, “written Azarenka.
“I look forward to returning to the 2024 Olympics in Paris to represent Belarus. I hope all fellow athletes are a safe, healthy and successful game.” Once the No. 1 in the world, it won 21 WTA singles titles, including the 2012 and 2013 consecutive British Open Championships.
Kerber posted on Twitter that he needed a break for rest and recovery. “Representing Germany in London in 2012 and Rio 2016 has always been one of my favorite memories of my career so far,” she writes. “This further accepts the fact that my body needs to rest after the fierce weeks behind me and the fact that I have to recover first before returning to competition later this summer. Disappoint!
“Thank you for your support as this was a very difficult decision for me. Good luck to all my fellow German athletes in Tokyo #TeamDeutschland. I miss you.”
In addition, former world No. 1 Kerber’s 13 career WTA single titles include Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open (2016), US Open (2016) and Wimbledon (2018).
Other stars skipping Japan’s Summer Olympics include Serena Williams, Bianca Andreesque, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.