Williams undergoes tests for medical issue, will return at Italian Open

Venus Williams will miss another tournament next week in Charleston, S.C., as she undergoes tests for a medical issue that her agent said Wednesday isn't serious.

The six-time major champion and former No. 1-ranked woman plans to return to the tour at next month's Italian Open and then participate in the year's remaining Grand Slams.

"This is not a hiatus. This is not a break from the tour," her agent, Carlos Fleming, said in a telephone interview. "This was a limited window where she could get these evaluations before the three major tournaments and Olympics this summer."

Williams, currently ranked No. 6, was already sitting out this week's tournament at Amelia Island, Fla., and she withdrew from Charleston on Wednesday. She did not cite an injury in pulling out of those events and is making off-court appearances at both.

Williams played last week at Key Biscayne, Fla., reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets.

"Venus has assured me that there's no serious medical problem," Fleming said. "But she did see this timing as a good opportunity to have these evaluations to make sure that her health is in order."

Neither Williams, who spoke to reporters at Amelia Island on Tuesday, nor Fleming would go into specifics about the nature of the medical issue.

After Williams lost to eventual champion Justine Henin in the U.S. Open semifinals in September, her mother and coach, Oracene Price, said Williams was taking medicine for anemia. Price said at the time that her daughter learned she had the condition after winning Wimbledon in July.

Fleming said Williams expects to be back on the court practicing sometime by the end of next week and fully intends to compete in the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open -- as well as the Beijing Olympics, where she aims to play in singles and in doubles with her younger sister Serena.

But Fleming said that an "ambitious" travel schedule so far in 2008 -- including stops in Doha, Qatar; Bangalore, India; and Melbourne, Australia -- made the 27-year-old Williams want to "make sure that her health was 100 percent on track."

The Italian Open, played in Rome, starts May 12. It is one of the key tuneup tournaments played on clay courts ahead of the French Open, which begins May 25.