FROM FRENCH OPEN
Ashley Marshall | June 4, 2018
Serena Williams withdrew from the French Open prior to her fourth-round match against longtime rival Maria Sharapova on Monday, citing a pectoral injury.
The 23-time Grand Slam women’s singles champion had slowly been playing herself into form in the first major tournament since giving birth to daughter Olympia in September.
But her return was cut short Monday afternoon just an hour before her highly anticipated clash with Sharapova after she revealed the problem with her muscle. She said she started experiencing discomfort in the pectoral during her third-round win over Julia Goerges on Saturday.
The pain continued to get worse during her doubles match with sister Venus on Sunday, and she could be seen rubbing the region during the third set, after which she was unable to carry her racquet bag off the court.
"It is hard to play when I can't physically serve,” she told reporters Monday at an impromptu press conference. ADVERTISEMENT "I've never had this injury before. I've never felt it in my life, and it was so painful.”
Williams said she will remain in the French capital for an MRI exam and to see multiple specialists. She said she would wait to see the results of the exams before deciding whether she would play Wimbledon.
The three-time French Open champion told journalists she has never experienced this injury before, and she said one of the reasons for playing the doubles match was to test out different strapping and taping to see whether there were ways to manage the injury under match conditions.
It is the first time Williams has withdrawn from a major in the middle of a tournament.
Sharapova advances to the quarterfinals, where she will face either Garbiñe Muguruza or Lesia Tsurenko.
"I'm beyond disappointed,” said Williams, who said her game matches up well against Sharapova, against whom she had won the past 18 matches. "I gave up so much – time with my daughter, time with my family. I put everything on the court all for this moment. So it’s really difficult to be in the situation. I try to think positive and think of the bigger picture, the next events and the rest of the year."