DUBAI - Serena Williams, the world number one, and Victoria Azarenka, the only unbeaten leading player on the women's tour this year, have been penalised for their late withdrawals from the Dubai Open.
Williams, who had a bad back and withdrew on Wednesday, has had $50,000 forfeited from the WTA's bonus pool, and zero points imposed for one tournament on her world ranking calculation.
Azarenka, who had a bruised heel and withdrew on Monday, had $100,000 forfeited from the WTA's bonus pool and zero points imposed for one tournament on her rankings calculation.
Azarenka's stronger punishment reflects the fact that hers was the second successive time she had pulled out from the Dubai Open after the entry deadline.
The incidents are a setback for the WTA Roadmap's campaign to reduce the number of player withdrawals, something it appears to have done successfully over the past three years. The situation was further complicated by the fact that Dubai Duty Free, the sponsors of the Dubai Open, are also sponsors of the WTA tour.
The forfeitures however seem of little financial consequence when the bonus pool total is as much as $4,900,000, and when these two players also earn many millions of dollars a year from prizemoney and sponsorships. The zero points imposed is also unlikely to have much, if any, adverse effect on the ranking of either, when calculated alongside their many successes.