- Associated Press - Friday, January 25, 2013

PARIS (AP) - Venus Williams has pulled out of next week’s Open GDF Suez tournament and the upcoming Fed Cup against Italy because of a back injury.

The 26th-ranked Williams said in a statement Friday that she had hoped to take part in the WTA tournament in order to improve her ranking, but that “unfortunately I have a pain in my back which obliges me to rest and so to miss the Parisian event as well as the Fed Cup the week after.”

Williams lost in straight sets to Maria Sharapova in the third round of the Australian Open. She also lost in the quarterfinals of the doubles alongside sister Serena.

Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone has been given a wild-card entry by organizers as a replacement.

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