Saturday 19 August 2017

'Help me. F***. Help me please' - US Grand Slam champion suffers horror injury at Wimbledon

US player Bethanie Mattek-Sands (L floor) is comforted by her husband Justin Sands (L top) as she gets attention from medics on court after suffering an injury
US player Bethanie Mattek-Sands (L floor) is comforted by her husband Justin Sands (L top) as she gets attention from medics on court after suffering an injury

Andy Sims

A sickening injury suffered by American Bethanie Mattek-Sands cast a cloud over Wimbledon on Thursday.

The incident also called into question the response of the medical services at the All England Club as she lay screaming on the turf.

The 32-year-old's knee appeared to buckle underneath her during her second-round match with Romanian Sorana Cirstea on Court 17.

"Help me. F***. Help me please," Mattek-Sands shouted.

Cirstea climbed over the net to check on Mattek-Sands and was clearly upset by what she saw.

"It was heartbreaking to see her that way," said Cirstea. "Her knee was in a very weird position. I've never seen anything like this, probably except in the movies."

Mattek-Sands has thanked well-wishers for their concern following the injury..

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) said on Friday morning: "Bethanie is currently undergoing more scans this morning and we should know more within the next few hours.

"Bethanie of course thanks everyone for their kind wishes and messages of support."

Mattek-Sands was initially comforted by Cirstea, her own husband Justin and her opponent's physio.

When paramedics arrived they gave her lengthy treatment including oxygen, but her screams could still be heard across large parts of the grounds.

Mattek-Sands was eventually taken to hospital while Wimbledon said she had suffered an "acute knee injury", which Cirstea felt was a dislocated kneecap.

Many spectators were visibly shaken by the events, as was Mattek-Sands' doubles partner Lucie Safarova, who went to the court when she heard about the injury. The duo were favourites to add Wimbledon to their US Open, Australian Open and French Open titles.

Cirstea, still shaken up by the injury to someone she also described as a friend, was critical about how long it took medical assistance to arrive.

The 27-year-old said: "I called for help, but no one was coming.

"She went into shock. She kept saying, 'Sorana help me, Sorana help me, Sorana help me'. I said 'I'm here, I'm here'.

"It took a really long time for the stretcher to get there. I don't know for how long she was on the ground, but I would say 10, 15 minutes.

"There are sports where you see something's happening, and you see the help straight away. Like football, boxing, all the others, it's straight away.

"Here, it took a while. So of course you wonder what would happen if it was a heart issue or something. I think she was too long on the ground."

The fall happened at around 4.45pm, and Mattek-Sands was taken away on a stretcher 25 minutes later.

The All England club said in a statement: "The first response to Court 17 was within one minute, by a qualified ambulance technician.

"The player was kept on court while pain relief was given.

"The player was then transferred directly to an ambulance and taken under emergency conditions to a hospital."

Support flooded in for Mattek-Sands from players past and present, with Wimbledon great Martina Navratilova writing on Twitter: "Am just devastated about Bethanie Mattek Sands and her injury today - we are all behind you, hoping for the best- lots of love,m. @BMATTEK"

Safarova said she saw the incident on television in the women's locker-room and instantly ran to the court.

The Czech also had to begin her own second-round singles match, which she lost to American Shelby Rogers, less than two hours afterwards.

"It's a shocking few hours obviously," an emotional Safarova said following her defeat.

"It's just terrible what happened. Obviously I'm very sad for her. It doesn't matter about whatever goals we had. It's just about her being healthy.

"I know what she has been through with the injuries. Everything was going so well for her. We had an amazing run.

"I'm just really hurt for her that she's hurt again like that."

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