“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my withdrawal from participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games…I am making this decision for a variety of health concerns including the uncertainty around the Zika virus.”
Raonic, who competed in the Wimbledon final over the weekend, was a legitimate medal hope for Canada in men’s singles. While his reasoning for missing Rio specifically mentions the Zika Virus that is a concern for athletes that has been out there for weeks. It is interesting that he also mentioned “a variety of health concerns.” The phrase could certainly encompass a lot, and it’s hard to ignore that the Canadian is an often-injured player coming off of the most enduring tournament of his career.
If he does have an unrevealed injury at this point, then that is something the tennis world will likely find out in very short order in my opinion. The 2016 Canadian Masters will start in Toronto in just over a week’s time. It will be interesting to see if Raonic is fit for the event or if his “variety of health concerns” will keep him from playing, or at least playing well, in the Toronto draw later this month.
Rafael Nadal also had some news regarding the Olympics. The Spaniard won an appeal on Friday with the International Tennis Federation and is allowed to compete in Rio. The gold medalist from Beijing 2008 still has a wrist problem to contend with. However, if he is fit to play then, he will certainly want to be in the men’s singles draw.
Other tennis news is a little more surprising as Victoria Azarenka has announced that she’s pregnant. The Belarus player seemed to be at the peak of her powers earlier this season as she cruised in both Indian Wells and Miami before suffering setbacks during the clay-court season. Azarenka, like Raonic, took to Facebook to reveal her news, and she was very positive about it:
“While recovering from the knee injury that I sustained at Roland Garros, I received news from my doctor that my boyfriend and I are going to become parents at the end of this year. We couldn’t be happier….I have been truly inspired by so many strong female athletes who return to the very top of their sport after having children, and I plan to do exactly that.”
Kim Clijsters is a notable tennis player that was able to enjoy on-court tennis success after giving birth to a child. She retired for the first time in 2007, gave birth in February 2008, and returned in 2009 to win the US Open. She also won the 2010 US Open and the 2011 Australian Open, giving her three Grand Slam titles after giving birth. It’s too early to know when Azarenka will be back but with her suggestion of an expecting date “at the end of this year” you have to think that she’ll miss the 2017 Australian Open in the early parts of next season at least.
ATP Hamburg, the most significant tennis tournament currently running, looks like it will feature a not-so-blockbuster final this weekend. Pablo Cuevas and Martin Klizan are the most proven players still alive in the draw, two players that could meet in the championship match.