Serena misses China date
Venus also pulls out of Beijing event
Last Updated: September 28, 2012 7:35am
Serena Williams: Has been forced to pull out of the China Open
Sisters Serena and Venus Williams have withdrawn from next week's China Open in Beijing.
Serena is ill while Venus is citing a back injury.
The absence of Serena, the reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic champion, is a major blow to the organisers.
The world No 4, however, should be fit to contest the end-of-season WTA Championships in Turkey which takes place towards the end of October.
Serena tweeted: "Have flu, no fun."
Her sibling Venus, now a lowly No 41 in the world, added: "I was looking forward to playing at the China Open this year but am currently working through a minor back injury and will unfortunately need more time to recover."
Tournament director Charles Hsiung said: "We would have loved for Venus and Serena to play the China Open this year but unfortunately players get injured and sick and are unable to compete."
The tournament starts on Saturday with Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland defending her title against a host of top players, including world No 1 Victoria Azarenka, Russian Maria Sharapova and home favourite Li Na.