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Aryna Sabalenka will not play Paris Olympics

Two-time Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka said she will not play the Paris Olympics due to scheduling and her health.

“I’m not going to play Olympics because of all the rules from WTA with mandatory tournaments and have to sacrifice something, and unfortunately, I have to sacrifice the Olympics,” she said Monday. “At this stage of my career, especially with all the struggles I’ve been struggling with the last months, I feel like I need to take care of my health. It’s too much for the scheduling. It’s just too much. I made the decision to take care of my health.”

The WTA Tour announced last June that “new player entry rules will ensure a consistent presence of the top athletes” at premium events, such as 1000-level tournaments, which are one level below the four Grand Slams.

The Paris Olympic tennis competition runs from July 27 to Aug. 4. The two weeks after that, a pair of 1000-level WTA tournaments are scheduled in Toronto and Mason, Ohio.

Sabalenka, the world’s third-ranked women’s singles player, said after a French Open quarterfinal defeat two weeks ago that she had been very sick with a stomach bug the few days leading into the match.

“It was the worst experience I had in my life on court,” Sabalenka said Monday, according to the WTA. “I’ve played while being ill, I’ve played with injuries, but when you have a stomach bug and you don’t have any energy to play and you’re in the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, that was really terrible experience. But it is how it is.

“I think my body was just asking for some rest. I managed to find a couple of days to chill and recover after the tough months.”

She is scheduled to play at a grass-court tournament this week in Berlin, her first event since the French Open.

The grass season runs through Wimbledon, which ends in mid-July. Then the tours shift to primarily hard-court tournaments through the U.S. Open in early September.

The Olympics, which will be played on the same French Open clay at Roland Garros, are between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

For players who do take part in the Olympics, that can mean going from clay to grass back to clay and then to hard courts, all within a two-month span.

“I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I’m ready for the hard courts,” Sabalenka said, according to the WTA, “and I’ll have a good preparation before going to the hard court season. I feel that this is safer and better for my body.”

The two players ranked ahead of Sabalenka, No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 2 Coco Gauff, are expected to headline the Paris Olympic women’s singles field.