Defending women’s champion Simona Halep has pulled out of Wimbledon because of a calf injury.
The Romanian tore a muscle at May’s Italian Open and was subsequently ruled out of the French Open.
The 29-year-old, who was seeded second, has been at the All England Club this week, raising hopes she would be fit to defend the title she won in 2019.
But she withdrew from the event, which returns after being cancelled last year, minutes before Friday’s draw.
Halep joins world number two Naomi Osaka in withdrawing after the Japanese decided to skip Wimbledon following her withdrawal from Roland Garros because of mental health issues.
In their absence, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka will climb up to be the number two seed behind top-ranked Australian Ashleigh Barty.
Halep produced a remarkable performance to defeat Serena Williams 6-2 6-2 in the final two years ago, making just three unforced errors – the lowest total of any player in a Grand Slam singles final since the statistic has been recorded.
She was denied the chance to defend her title in 2020 when Wimbledon cancelled the tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wimbledon crown was Halep’s second Grand Slam title after victory in the French Open in 2018.
The world number three has missed three of the last five majors after withdrawing from last year’s US Open because of concerns over the pandemic.