The world number five had been plagued by a back injury prior to Roland Garros, but it was a knee injury which flared up in the third game of her first round match against Karin Knapp which has forced her to withdraw. The Belarussian dropped the opening set 6-3 but recovered to win a second set tiebreak before retiring at 4-0 down in the final set.
Azarenka has spent the past couple of days at Nottingham Tennis Centre training in preparation for the grass court season but was unable to prove her fitness ahead of the start of the season.
After making the announcement the former world number one said: “’I am very disappointed to have to withdraw from Nottingham. Although I came here a few days ago to prepare and start training, my knee is unfortunately not yet completely healed and ready to play at 100%. I had been very much looking forward to playing here in front of the fans in Nottingham at this great event. I have been made to feel so welcome by everyone here and the facilities, including the grass courts, have been excellent, but hope to have a chance to come back next year instead.”
The Aegon Open Nottingham (WTA) Tournament Director, Rebecca James, said: “We are disappointed that Victoria has had to withdraw from the event however we remain very excited about the top quality tennis that is coming up this week. It is the nature of the sport that players pick up injuries, and we all wish Victoria a speedy recovery. We would love to welcome her back to Nottingham in the future. Preparations are all on track, and as Victoria said, the courts are in fantastic condition and I can’t wait for the tournament to get underway.”
Azarenka is the third player to have withdrawn prior to the tournament, following announcements from Rome runner-up Madison Keys and 2015 finalist Monica Niculescu. Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and British stars Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Naomi Broady and Laura Robson are all confirmed for the tournament which takes place from June 4-12.