PARIS -- Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina pulled out of the French Open before her third-round match Saturday due to illness.
"I just wanted to give 100%, and obviously I'm far from being 100%," Rybakina said. "If I cannot breathe, there is no chance I can even run and try to compete."
They were scheduled to begin playing at 11:45 a.m. local time, but instead, at that very moment, Rybakina sat down behind the microphone at a news conference to explain why she was withdrawing from the year's second Grand Slam tournament.
Sounding stuffed up, Rybakina explained that she has been running a fever, didn't sleep well the past two nights and had difficulty breathing during a warmup session Saturday ahead of her match. She said a doctor told her there is a virus going around "here in Paris."
Rybakina, who won each of her first two matches this week in straight sets, was considered among the top contenders for the championship at Roland Garros. She has won her past 10 matches, including a tuneup title on red clay at the Italian Open last month.
She plays a power-built game based in part on one of the best serves on the WTA Tour, which she leads in aces this season.
Last July, Rybakina won her first major trophy, defeating Ons Jabeur in the final at Wimbledon.
Rybakina is a 23-year-old who was born in Moscow and has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, when that country offered her funding to support her tennis career. The switch was a topic of conversation during Wimbledon, because the All England Club barred athletes who represent Russia or Belarus from entering the tournament in 2022 because of the war in Ukraine.
The walkover allows 26-year-old Sorribes Tormo to advance to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career.