Serena Williams’ quest for her fourth French Open title was abruptly cut short today after she announced she was withdrawing from the tournament because of a pectoral injury.
The 23-time grand slam champion was set to face rival Maria Sharapova in the fourth round at Roland-Garros. Williams, 36, says the injury prevents her from serving effectively. Her voice quivered as she made the announcement at the news conference.
“I’m beyond disappointed,” said Williams. “I gave up so much. From time with my daughter, to time with my family, and I put everything on the court. And all for this moment. So it’s really difficult to be in this situation.”
This was Williams’ first major tournament appearance since the 2017 Australian Open. She won the tournament while in the early stages of her pregnancy. Williams gave birth to her daughter, Alexis, last September. She returned from maternity leave at the BNP Paribus Open in March.
Sharapova will advance to the quarterfinals due to Williams’ injury. The matchup between Williams and Sharapova was much-anticipated. Though Williams has won 18 consecutive matches against Sharapova, the Russian-born star stirred controversy with comments in her autobiography, “Unstoppable: My Life So Far.”
Sharapova wrote that Williams “hated” her for winning their 2004 matchup at Wimbledon and that the loss made Williams cry. It is one of only two wins Sharapova holds over Williams. Williams, in a press conference yesterday, dismissed the claims in the book as “100 percent hearsay.”
Williams says she started feeling chest pains during her third-round win over 11-seeded German Julia Goerges on Saturday. Williams played through the injury in a doubles loss with her sister Venus on Sunday. She will undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Her status for Wimbledon is currently unknown.
“It’s really difficult to be in this situation,” said Williams. “But for now in my life I just try to always think positive and think of the bigger picture.”