Williams withdraws from the first-round match due to a leg injury while leading 3-1
ENGLAND’S WIMBLEDON — Serena Williams chewed the inside of her upper lip. While getting ready to serve, she covered her mouth with her left hand and fought back tears.
Williams hurt her right leg in the first set of her first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday, and she knew her stay at the tournament, where she has won seven of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles, was about to come to an end because she lost her footing behind a baseline.
Her legs buckled moments later as she attempted to change directions in order to chase down a shot by her opponent, Belarus’s Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who was ranked 100th. Williams knelt on the grass, her head on her knees. She used her racket to help her stand, but only long enough to limp to the net and concede — only her second mid-match retirement at a Grand Slam tournament and the first since 1998.
Williams said in a statement released by the tournament, “I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today.”
“Today, feeling the incredible warmth and support of the crowd as I walked on — and off — the court meant the world to me,” she said.
“She’s a great champion, and it’s a sad storey,” Sasnovich said.
Serena Williams Still Made An Attempt Too Play
When a reporter told Roger Federer what had happened to Williams, he echoed a common sentiment.
Oh, my God, he exclaimed. “It’s unbelievable.”
Williams was serving at Centre Court, where the retractable roof was closed due to rain, which forced the postponement of two dozen matches until Wednesday, when her left shoe appeared to lose traction while she was hitting a forehand.
Williams winced and took a cautious step between points, clearly distressed. She requested a trainer visit and a medical timeout after dropping that game.
She made an attempt to continue playing. The audience attempted to offer encouragement and support. The 39-year-old American eventually ran out of steam. When Williams stopped, the score was 3-all, 15-30. The chair umpire climbed down to check on her, and they walked together up to the net.
Williams, who had her right thigh heavily taped before the match, raised her racket with her right arm and placed her left palm on her chest. She then waved to the onlookers.
Williams has only lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament twice in her career. The other came in 2012, when she was defeated by Virginie Razzano at the French Open. Soon after, Williams teamed up with coach Patrick Mouratoglou and began amassing majors, surpassing Steffi Graf’s professional era record of 22 and closing in on Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24.
“All the best to her,” said Sasnovich, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2018, her best Grand Slam performance.
Williams Departure Made The Women’s Draw More Open.
With Williams’ departure, the women’s draw becomes even more open. Even before the tournament began, defending champion Simona Halep and four-time major champion Naomi Osaka withdrew.
Williams was among the top contenders even as her 40th birthday approached in September. She had reached the finals of the previous four Wimbledon tournaments with her best-in-the-game serve and stinging groundstrokes.
Over the first two days of main-draw play, Williams was far from the only player who struggled with the slick grass.
Eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer advanced in the match that preceded hers in the main stadium when his opponent, Adrian Mannarino, injured his right knee late in the fourth set when he tumbled near the same spot Williams did.
When Mannarino fell, Federer was down two sets to one, but leading 4-2 in the fourth. When they resumed, he dropped eight of nine points and decided to call it a day.
“Obviously, he was the better player,” Federer admitted.
Novak Djokovic, who won his first-round match at Centre Court on Monday, also lost twice in the first set.
“It feels a tad more slippery, maybe, under the roof,” she says. I’m not sure if it’s just a gut instinct. You must move with extreme caution out there. “You do go down if you push too hard at the wrong time,” Federer said. “It appears to be drier during the day. The grass loses moisture as a result of the wind and other factors. But this is clearly a disaster.”
Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Linkedin |