Hingis seeded first, Pierce withdraws from French Open

Martina Hingis, ranked No. 1 in the world and seeking her first French Open title, will be the top seed in the Grand Slam event that begins next week.

Venus Williams will be seeded second, followed by fellow-American Lindsay Davenport. Seedings are based on the latest WTA Tour world rankings.

Jennifer Capriati, who opened the Grand Slam season by winning the Australian Open, will be seeded fourth. Last year, the 25-year-old Capriati was beaten in the first round of the French, but was a semifinalist at Roland Garros in 1990.

Amelie Mauresmo of France will be seeded fifth, followed by three-time French Open champion Monica Seles and Serena Williams.

Defending champion Mary Pierce withdrew Wednesday with a back injury. Pierce, who made the announcement after a first-round loss in the Strasbourg Open, is bothered by a "chronic inflammation of the lumbar spine," a WTA statement said.

"I am deeply disappointed and sad to be unable to defend my title," Pierce, ranked No. 17 in the world, said in a statement.

The 20-year-old Hingis has won Wimbledon, the U.S. and Australian opens but not the French Open, the only Grand Slam event played on clay. The Swiss star lost in the French finals in 1997 and '98, and has not won a Grand Slam event since the 1999 Australian Open.

Hingis is off to a shaky start on clay this year, losing in the semis of the Italian and German opens -- both times to Mauresmo.