World No. 3 Maria Sharapova (Player Info) has officially withdrawn from the BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul at the end of the month. It appears that her shoulder injury will not allow her to participate in the event, meaning her season has officially ended.
“I am very disappointed that I will not be able to play in the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships this year,” Sharapova said. “The fans in Istanbul have welcomed us each year with such intense passion and warmth, I will sincerely miss the energy and excitement they brought to the year-end tournament. I want to thank Istanbul for being a tremendous host and hope to play in Turkey sometime in the future.”
It has been a turbulent season for Sharapova, who won titles in Indian Wells and Stuttgart and even made the finals in Madrid, Miami and the French Open, losing each of those match-ups to Serena Williams. She left longtime coach Thomas Hogstedt and began a short-term partnership with Jimmy Connors, which did not last long. She is yet to announce her next coach heading into the upcoming season.
With Sharapova’s absence from the year-end championships, Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani and Jelena Jankovic have all qualified for the tournament. They will join Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na, who had all already booked their places at the eight-woman event, which begins on 22 October.
While the news is a disappointment for Sharapova fans, the Russian star admits that her rehab is going great and that she will take part in a variety of exhibition matches in preparation for the beginning of her 2014 season. She updated fans on her official Facebook page soon after the news was made official:
As I am sure you have heard, I have unfortunately withdrew from the Championships this year. On the bright side, my shoulder has really improved in the last week, and I can finally begin my strength rehab, before getting back on the court again. I will start my off season preparations early and use my exhibition matches in the month of December in Bogota, Mexico City and Thailand to get some matches going.
There is only one spot remaining in the WTA Championships and Angelique Kerber is favoured to get it.