MOSCOW (AP) _ U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and World No .3 player Lindsay Davenport of the United States have pulled out of the Kremlin Cup tennis tournament because of the tragic events in New York and Washington on September 11, organizers said Wednesday.
``We definitely cannot substitute for Williams and Davenport and their absence will narrow the tournament's intrigue, but we fully respect their concerns about traveling,'' said Alexei Selivanenko, director of the women's part of the tournament.
Despite the withdrawals of Williams and Davenport, the women's field of the tournament which begins Monday is still strong, featuring 12 of the top 20 players including defending champion world No. 1 Martina Hingis of Switzerland. Also will be playing WTA No. 5 Kim Clijsters of Belgium, French No. 6 Amelie Mauresmo and her countrywoman Nathalie Tauziat, WTA No. 10.
No.8 Justine Henin of Belgium, runner-up to Williams at Wimbledon, has received a WTA wild card to enter the tournament.
Also expected is Russian tennis diva Anna Kournikova, who was sidelined for the most of the year because of a stress fracture of her left foot. Kournikova is expected to open her campaign in the second round of Sparkassen Cup WTA tournament in Leipzig on Thursday.
The men's and women's tournaments will be held simultaneously for the second year.
Previously, they were held separately with a two-week gap, which meant that the Olympic indoor stadium was booked for a month.
The men's field will not be as strong as women's one. Organizers expect only two top 10 players - defending champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia and ATP No. 10 Roger Federer of Switzerland as well as ATP No. 11 Marat Safin of Russia.
Safin, U.S.open champion last year, won his first title this year, beating Kafelnikov in the first ever all-Russian ATP final in Tashkent a week ago.
Organizers also said that Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia has asked for a wild card.
The tournament will be played on a new Taraflex surface.
The prize money for the women is dlrs 1,050,000 and dlrs 1 million for the men.