PARIS -- The French Open lost some of its luster yesterday when former champion Serena Williams pulled out hours before the draw.
Williams, who sprained her left ankle in early April, said she still hasn't recovered enough to play this Grand Slam event, which starts Monday.
''I am very disappointed to be forced to withdraw," Williams said, according to the WTA. ''Roland Garros is a fantastic global event with great fans, and I look forward to participating in next year's tournament."
Williams, the 2002 French Open champion, won the Australian Open this year for her seventh Grand Slam title. She was replaced by Russia's Elena Dementieva as the fourth-seeded player in the draw.
No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, who has never gotten past the semifinals at the French, starts against Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik.
No. 2 Maria Sharapova of Russia starts against countrywoman Evgenia Linetskaya, with the winner going against one of two wild cards.