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PARIS. — Serena Williams yesterday sensationally pulled out of the French Open tennis tournament before her fourth-round match with Maria Sharapova because of an injury that affected her serve.
The 36-year-old said she had suffered a pectoral muscle injury in her third-round win over Julia Goerges and “can’t serve at all”.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner recently returned to tennis after giving birth to her first child, but looked in good form in her opening matches.
Williams added that she would stay in Paris for scans on the injury to find out how long she will be out of action.
She was unable to say whether or not she would be fit for Wimbledon which gets underway in four weeks’ time.
“I’m beyond disappointed,” added three-time Roland Garros champion Williams who was playing in her first Grand Slam since winning the 2017 Australian Open.
“I’ve had issues with the right pectoral muscle to the point where I can’t serve,” said the 36-year-old.
“I’ll have a scan. I won’t know about Wimbledon until I get the results.”
Williams said she first felt the problem during her third-round win over German 11th seed Gorges on Saturday.
She played in a doubles match with sister Venus on Sunday, saying she wanted to try to manage the problem before her match with Sharapova.
“I tried lots of taping and support to see how it felt in match circumstances,” Williams said.
“It is hard to play when I can’t physically serve. I’ve never had this injury before, I’ve never felt it in my life and it was so painful.
“I don’t know how to manage it.”
Williams said she will have an MRI scan in Paris today and will stay in the French capital at least until the extent of her injury is clear.
She was also playing just her third tournament of the year after giving birth to daughter Olympia in September last year.
“I gave up so much from time with my daughter and time with my family all for this moment. So it’s really difficult to be in this situation.”
The shock withdrawal came just minutes before she was due on Court Philippe Chatrier to face bitter rival Sharapova.
Williams has not lost to the Russian since 2004, winning the last 18 matches. It had been the most eagerly-awaited match of the tournament, coming just two days after Williams had blasted Sharapova’s autobiography for being “100 percent hearsay” when it came to references about her.
The possibility of Williams facing Sharapova had been grabbing attention since the draw was made at Roland Garros 10 days ago. — BBC Sport