Sydney: Justine Henin-Hardenne has withdrawn from the Australian Open for undisclosed personal reasons. Australian Open spokesman John Lindsay confirmed on Thursday that Henin-Hardenne - the No 1 women's player in the world - withdrew from the tournament that begins on January 15 in Melbourne. She was the runner-up last year. Lindsay said Australian Open officials checked with the women's tennis tour after the Belgian player withdrew earlier on Thursday from next week's Sydney International and were told Henin-Hardenne would not be playing in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year either. No official reason was given, although Henin-Hardenne was expected to release a statement on Friday. Sydney International tournament director Craig Watson said senior officials from the WTA Tour informed them of Henin-Hardenne's decision on Thursday. "I was told the withdrawal was for personal reasons," Watson said. "Obviously we are very disappointed; Justine is our defending champion. "I believe she is quite upset and we certainly wish her the best and hope she is able to return to the courts very soon." Amelie Mauresmo, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year, will take over as the top seed for the Sydney tournament, which begins on Monday. Henin-Hardenne, 24, won the French Open last season and reached the final at the three other majors before capping 2006 with a win in the season-ending WTA Tour Championship. She had a 60-8 record in 2006.
Topics : Tennis