2021 Wimbledon: Serena Williams forced to retire against Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

Serena Williams quest for her record-tying 24th Grand Slam title will have to wait as the American was forced to retire after six games into her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Center Court at Wimbledon.

Leading 3-1, Williams slipped on the grass at 15-15 in the fifth game, where she was broken. During the changeover, she requested the physio and eventually took an off-court medical timeout.

The moment that forced Serena out of the tournament/Photo: AELTC/Jed Leicester/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
The moment that forced Serena out of the tournament/Photo: AELTC/Jed Leicester/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

When the match resumed, Sasnovich held to level the set at 3-3 and three points later, after losing her footing on the baseline, she decided to retire and left the court to a standing ovation. 

Williams makes statement on Instagram following exit

The seven-time Wimbledon champion did not attend her post-match press conference, but she did take to social media to provide an update.

"I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg. My love and gratitude are with the fans and team who make being on Center Court so meaningful. 

"Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on - and off - the court meant the world to me."

Sasnovich post-match quotes

The Belarusian spoke about watching the seven-time Wimbledon champion's injury ordeal.

"I'm so sad for Serena", she said. "She's a great champion. I'm wishing all the best for her for the best recovery. It's very sad for me, honestly, when your opponent feels bad.

"I was happy to play against her. She's a great champion. Of course, I wanted to play the full match, but that's tennis. I was ready to play 100% today. I was ready mentally. I was ready strategically."

Having reached the Round of 16 in 2018, Sasnovich is comfortable on the lawns of the All-England Club.

"I could say that grass is one of my favorite surfaces because it matches very much with my style. I can move very well, my legs are on a good level, like I'm moving fast."