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Sports in brief: Venus Williams withdraws from Australian Open

tennis

australian open loses venus williams

MELBOURNE, Australia — Venus Williams withdrew from the Australian Open on Monday, prolonging her absence from the tour because of an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.

The seven-time Grand Slam title winner announced on Twitter and her website that she wouldn't play in the year's first major tournament, which starts next week. She added that she plans to be back in action next month.

Williams, 31, hasn't played competitively since Aug. 29 at the U.S. Open. Two days later, she pulled out of that tournament, revealing that she had been diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome.

The former No. 1 who is 100th in this week's WTA rankings has dealt with a series of health problems, including a hip injury that forced her to withdraw from last year's Australian Open, and a left knee injury that kept her on the sideline between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010.

Since reaching the semifinal at the 2010 U.S. Open, Williams has played only 11 matches.

Aussie Open seedings: Caroline Wozniacki and defending champion Novak Djokovic are the top seeds at the Australian Open. Djokovic is followed by 2009 champion Rafael Nadal, four-time champion Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is seeded No. 2. Defending women's champion Kim Clijsters is 12th, one spot in front of Serena Williams.

Sydney International: U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur lost to Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-4 in the first round. Schiavone beat Stosur, a Tampa resident, in the 2010 French Open final and had little trouble disposing of the local favorite again. Schiavone will next play Daniela Hantuchova, who beat Roberta Vinci 7-5, 6-2.

golf

Stricker stumbles, then recovers

Despite losing most of his five-shot lead in only six holes, Steve Stricker steadied himself in time to kick off the new PGA Tour season with a three-shot victory in the Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii.

Right when it looked as though Stricker was coming unglued, he made back-to-back birdies at the turn. That restored his lead to three, and no one got closer than two the rest of the way.

Stricker birdied his last hole for 4-under 69 for his 12th career win, which moved him to No. 5 in the world ranking.

autos

Winless Tagliani to drive for IndyCar

Bryan Herta Autosport has signed Alex Tagliani to drive in the Izod IndyCar Series this season.

The team won the Indianapolis 500 last year with Dan Wheldon as the driver. Tagliani drove the car in last year's season finale at Las Vegas, where Wheldon was killed in an early 15-car accident.

Tagliani has never won in IndyCar, and his career-best finish is fourth in a race.

Dakar Rally: Joan Roma of Spain won the eighth stage in the car category, while Stephane Peterhansel kept the overall lead. In the motorcycle category, defending champion Marc Coma of Spain won the stage and took the overall lead. The 296-mile special stage took riders north from Copiapo, Chile, to Antofagasta.

et cetera

Running: The New York City Marathon will be shown on live national television for the first time in nearly 20 years as part of a new five-year partnership with ABC and ESPN. The race is Nov. 4.

Times wires

Sports in brief: Venus Williams withdraws from Australian Open 01/09/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 12:06am]
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