The American was expected to play her first-round match against Zarina Diyas today.

A recurring back injury forced Williams to withdraw from the Cincinnati Masters, just days after being forced to pull out of the Rogers Cup final. This can be seen as a precautionary decision given the upcoming US Open for the former world number one.

Williams was visibly upset in Toronto on Sunday when she pulled out of the Rogers Cup final with the same back spasms. As a result of that withdrawal, Canadian Bianca Andreescu was handed the title over the weekend.

“I am so sad to withdraw as it is truly one of the tournaments I most love to play,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said.

The American has had to retire or withdraw from all five of her non-Grand Slam events this year.

“I came to Mason, Ohio, on Sunday and have tried everything to be ready to play tonight, and was still hopeful after my practice this morning,” Williams said in a statement. “But unfortunately my back is still not right.”

Many will now be hoping Williams can recover just in time for the start of the US Open, which starts in two weeks time. The American could clinch a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title if she is able to win the Flushing Meadows tournament.

Meanwhile, sister Venus Williams beat defending champion and fifth seed Kiki Bertens 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4) in a second-round battle in Ohio that lasted two hours and 17 minutes.

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