Heather Watson ruled out of season opener with ankle injury

Heather Watson
Watson was the first British woman in 17 years to win at the French Open in 2011

Heather Watson has been ruled out of her first tournament of the season in New Zealand with a sprained ankle.

The British number three was due to start the new WTA campaign in the ASB Classic qualifying rounds in Auckland.

Watson, 19, wrote on her Facebook page: "I will not be playing in Auckland because I sprained my ankle badly.

"It's very frustrating but Auckland is one of my favourite tournaments of the year and I'm looking forward to playing it next year because I love the event."

Watson is hoping to return for the Moorilla International in Australia where qualifying starts on 6 January.

She added: "Hobart will now be my first tournament of the year."

Watson has direct entry into the Australian Open, which begins on 16 January.

She will be playing in the tournament for the first time after rising to 92 in the world rankings.

Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams has also withdrawn from the Auckland tournament through injury.

Meanwhile Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley wrote on Twitter that former men's world number four James Blake has withdrawn from both the Australian Open and the Brisbane tournament that starts on 1 January.

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