Injury forces Williams out of French Open


Associated Press

PARIS

Serena Williams tried to play through the pain of an injured chest muscle. Eventually, barely able to serve, she knew she had to call off her Grand Slam comeback.

Williams pulled out of the French Open less than an hour before she was supposed to face Maria Sharapova in a fourth-round showdown Monday, the most-anticipated match of the tournament so far. The announcement came two days after the 36-year-old American initially felt something was wrong during a singles victory. But she hid that bit of information — even from her coach — and a day after Williams struggled through a doubles loss with her sister, Venus.

This was Williams’ first major tournament in 16 months, and her first as a mother. She was pregnant when she won the Australian Open in January 2017 for her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, the most for anyone during tennis’ 50-year professional era. Her baby was born last September.

“I have given up so much to be here. There is times where I’m on the court and I’m practicing, and I look on the monitor, and I see my daughter and she’s playing, and I want to be there,” Williams said. “But I know that these are the sacrifices you have to make to live out your dream. And I have made every sacrifice that I could. So it’s extremely disappointing.”

Her voice trembled a bit during a brief news conference, where she explained she will get an MRI today and consult with doctors before figuring out what comes next.

“The fact that I physically can’t serve at all is a good indication that maybe I should just go back to the drawing board and stay positive,” Williams said, “and try to get better and not get it to a point where it could be a lot worse.”

In a statement released by the tournament, Sharapova wished Williams “a speedy recovery.” This would have been their 22nd career meeting; Williams has won 19, including the past 18.

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