Three-time French Open champion Serena Williams has been forced to withdraw from her highly anticipated fourth round clash against fellow Roland Garros champion Maria Sharapova due to a pectoral injury.
Williams, who has been playing in the singles and doubles draw in Paris this year, was noticeably struggling with her serve in the conclusion of her doubles match with sister Venus yesterday, with the pair being bageled by Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the deciding set.
Rumors of Williams’ withdrawal began to circulate on social media following reports on French TV that she had withdrawn from her match against Sharapova, and the news was converted shortly after with the American holding a press conference
Serena “beyond disappointed” to have to withdraw
The American, who was playing her first Grand Slam tournament since the birth of her daughter, and only her third tournament since her return, had beaten Kristyna Pliskova, 17th seed Ashleigh Barty, and 11th seed Julia Goerges on her way into the second week. Williams confirmed in her press conference that it was during the match against Goerges on Saturday that she first felt pain in her arm.
“I have unfortunately been having some issues with my right pec muscle,” Serena commented, later adding that “right now I can’t actually serve so it’s actually hard to play when I can’t physically serve.” She also commented that she was disappointed that her tournament ended in such a way because of the sacrifices she made to try and be ready for the tournament, such as missing time with her daughter, Olympia.
Williams later added that she decided to continue to play in the doubles tournament to test whether her arm was getting better or not, though added that no strapping was able to deal with an injury that she says she has never suffered from before: “I’ve never felt this in my life. This is so painful.”
Her withdrawal means that Sharapova, twice a French Open champion, reaches her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since her return from her ban last April. The Russian will face third seed Garbine Muguruza or Lesia Tsurenko, with that match having been moved onto Court Philippe Chatrier for later tonight.