Tennis·ROUNDUP

Pregnancy to keep 2016 U.S. Open champion Kerber out of this year's tourney

Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber withdrew from the U.S. Open on Wednesday because she is pregnant, joking on social media that "two against one just isn't a fair competition" and posting a string of emojis that included a baby bottle.

Former world No. 1 hasn't competed on tour since Wimbledon 3rd-round loss in July

German tennis player Angelique Kerber is "nervous and excited" about taking a few months off to have a baby. The 2016 U.S. Open champion will miss this year's event, which begins next week in New York. (Elsa/Getty Images/File)

Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber withdrew from the U.S. Open on Wednesday because she is pregnant, announcing the news via social media by joking that "two against one just isn't a fair competition" and posting a string of emojis that included a baby bottle.

The 34-year-old German won the title at Flushing Meadows in 2016 to rise to No. 1 in the WTA rankings. She also won the Australian Open that year and added a Wimbledon championship in 2018.

She hasn't competed on tour since a third-round loss at Wimbledon on July 1. She is currently ranked 52nd.

"For the next months, I will take a break from travelling the globe as a tennis player but then again, I believe it's for the best possible reason," Kerber wrote Wednesday. "I will miss all of you."

She also said: "Being a professional athlete means everything to me but I'm grateful for the new path I'm heading to. To be honest, I'm nervous and excited at the same time."

Play in the main draw of the U.S. Open begins Monday.

Belarus' Azarenka dropped from Ukraine exhibition

Two-time major champion and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka was dropped Wednesday from a pre-U.S. Open exhibition event raising money for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine.

Azarenka is from Belarus, which helped Russia launch its invasion of Ukraine in February. At least one Ukrainian tennis player, Marta Kostyuk, questioned having a Belarusian player participate in the U.S. Tennis Association's "Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition," scheduled for Wednesday night in Louis Armstrong Stadium at Flushing Meadows.

The USTA issued a statement Wednesday, saying: "In the last 24 hours, after careful consideration and dialogue with all parties involved, Victoria Azarenka will not be participating … this evening. Vika is a strong player leader and we appreciate her willingness to participate. Given the sensitivities to Ukrainian players, and the ongoing conflict, we believe this is the right course of action for us."

Azarenka and all players representing Russia or Belarus were banned from entering Wimbledon — which was held in June and July — because of the invasion of Ukraine. The USTA announced in June that it would allow those athletes to compete in the U.S. Open.

Azarenka won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, and was the runner-up at the U.S. Open in 2012, 2013 and 2020.

Rafael Nadal, Coco Gauff, Carlos Alcarez, Iga Swiatek and Leylah Fernandez were among the other players set to participate in Wednesday's event, with all proceeds from sales of $25 and $50 tickets going to an international nonprofit organization.

It is part of the USTA's effort to raise at least $2 million to benefit Ukraine by the end of the U.S. Open.

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