ROME – Defending champion Serena Williams of the United States withdrew from the Italian Open on Thursday citing an elbow injury, meaning the tournament will proceed without either of the Williams sisters. Shortly after sister Venus was swept aside 6-2, 6-1 by Romanian second seed Simona Halep, top seed Williams announced her withdrawal prior to her third round match with Christina McHale. Williams said the decision was made after consideration that not stopping could harm her chances at the French Open, or even Wimbledon. "It wasn't an easy decision, I talked with my coach and he said it wouldn't be smart for me to play. "We had to make the right decisions for the future, not for now. "If I continue to play it could really hurt my chances, not just for Roland Garros but for Wimbledon."