Friday 19 October 2018

Williams in race for Wimbledon following withdrawal

Within half an hour, Williams had arrived in the interview room to explain the circumstances of her withdrawal. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Within half an hour, Williams had arrived in the interview room to explain the circumstances of her withdrawal. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Simon Briggs

Serena Williams' ambitions for Wimbledon must be in doubt after she withdrew from the French Open yesterday, minutes before she was due to play the most anticipated match of the year, against old foe Maria Sharapova.

The cause was a strain in her right pectoral muscle, which she said had left her unable to serve without intense pain.

According to her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, an ultrasound scan confirmed the presence of an injury, but more investigation will be required before the prognosis becomes clear.

Word began to spread that there was a problem at about 3pm local time, just as Rafael Nadal was entering the third set of his victory over Maximilian Marterer.

Within half an hour, Williams had arrived in the interview room to explain the circumstances of her withdrawal.

She first felt the pain during her confident third-round win over Julia Gorges last Saturday and it grew worse during Sunday's doubles defeat alongside sister Venus.

Playing Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Williams's service speeds tailed away towards the end of the 6-4, 6-7, 6-0 defeat and Mouratoglou had to carry her bag as the players walked off.

"I'm beyond disappointed," said Williams. "I have given up so much to be here.

"There are times where I'm on the court and I'm practising, and I look on the monitor and I see my daughter and she's playing and I want to be there, but I know that these are the sacrifices you have to make to live out your dream.

"Also, I made a promise to myself and to my coach and to my team that if I'm not at least 60pc or 50pc, then I probably shouldn't play."

The injury must have been all the more frustrating because Williams had been building nicely towards her long-awaited showdown with Sharapova, the match of this or any day of the tournament.

"It's very difficult because I love playing Maria," said Williams. "It's just a match I always get up for. It's just her game matches so well against mine."

According to the usual tennis conventions, Sharapova will not speak publicly until after her next match - a fascinating quarter-final against Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion here who is now the clear favourite.

But she did put out a statement, which said: "I was looking forward to my match against Serena today and am disappointed that she had to withdraw. I wish her a speedy recovery and hope she returns to the tour soon."

In the matches that did make it on to court yesterday, world No 2 Caroline Wozniacki's battle with 14th seed Daria Kasatkina resumed after its overnight suspension, and Wozniacki lasted only 17 more minutes before being eliminated 7-6, 6-3.

Three of the four men's matches followed expectation and ranking, with the exception being Diego Schwartzman's five-set win over US Open finalist Kevin Anderson.

(© Daily Telegraph, London).

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