Serena Williams has pulled out of the French Open prior to her much-anticipated fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova, citing a right arm injury.
The withdrawal was first reported to be coming on French television, but it wasn’t confirmed until later, when the 23-time Grand Slam champion officially announced it.
According to FranceTV, Serena Williams has an arm injury and might not be able to compete vs Maria Sharapova…#RG18
— Steph Trudel (@TrudelSteph) June 4, 2018
The online tennis world was on fire for about half an hour as these rumors floated around but were uncomfirmed. Fans remained skeptical, as should always happen with unsubstantiated internet rumors, but as time went on, the speculation persisted. No mention was made on American television for the first half-hour or so, so the majority of Serena’s fans–those not on places like Twitter–were unaware of the rumors.
The three-time French Open champion was making her much-anticipated Grand Slam return, as she had not competed at a Major since the 2017 Australian Open, where she took home the title while about eight weeks pregnant.
Serena said in her press conference that the issue was something in her pecs, which impacted her ability to serve the ball. She said that she cannot play if she cannot serve.
She was unable to comment on when she will come back and if this could affect her for Wimbledon. She said she will have an MRI tomorrow (Tuesday), and the results of that will tell about the potential long-term effects of the injury.
Williams made her return to competition in March, and clearly needed some time to adjust back to the tour. She has not won a tournament since her return, but she looked very good starting in the second round here.
Fans and pundits will question whether the 36-year-old tried to do too much in Paris. She played on almost every single day of competition, between the singles tournament and her doubles pairing with sister Venus.
In her press conference, Serena said she began to feel the issue in her third-round singles match against Julia Goerges. She said that she continued to play in the doubles tournament yesterday so she could see how the injury would affect her in match play, as well as to try different ways to tape up the injury to see if that could help.
Serena Williams had dominated her career “rivalry” with two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova, as the Russian had not defeated her in over a decade. Many looked forward to this match, as Serena’s lack of match play meant that the Russian might have had a chance. Also, it’s always good to watch two former champions meet at a Slam. Unfortunately, Serena was unable to compete. Sharapova will move on to the quarterfinals to face the winner of Garbine Muguruza vs Lesia Tsurenko.
This is the first time–in over two decades of Grand Slam play–that Serena Williams has withdrawn in the middle of a Grand Slam tournament.