Three-time champion Serena Williams has pulled out of the French Open, moments before she was due to take to the court in the second round against the Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova.
Williams declared that she has been ordered to rest an achilles injury that has deteriorated since the US Open.
‘Stuck’ on 23 majors titles since her last victory in Melbourne three years ago, Williams said there would be: “Just two weeks of sitting down and doing nothing and, after that, I’ve been told I need to do a little training. But, doing the math on that, more than likely – I don’t know if I’ll be able play another tournament this year.”
“I feel like my body is willing. This is not a nagging injury. This is an acute injury. If it was my knee, that would be more devastating for me, but this is something that just happened, and it’s super acute. That’s totally different,” she added.
“So, I think my body is doing really, really well. I just ran into, for lack of a better word, bad timing and bad luck, really, in New York. It happened but my body is doing really well. And I can never do too much sitting because I’ve been working for over twenty-something years.
William’s search for the record-equaling 24th Grand Slam is something that is driving her on.
“I love playing tennis. I love competing and I love being out here. It’s my job – and I’m pretty good at it still. So, until I feel like I’m not good at it, I’ll be OK. And I’m so close to some things. Like, I’m almost there. That’s what keeps me going.”
Her withdrawal left unanswered questions. She said she suffered a recurrence of the injury in the seemingly easy finish to her 7-6 (2), 6-0, first-round win over her unseeded compatriot, Kristie Ahn.
On Wednesday, she said, “In that second set, I felt like I needed to walk with a limp, and that was no good. I had to focus on just walking straight. I tried. I always give a 100%. Everyone knows that. Maybe even more than a hundred, if that’s possible. I take solace in that. I think achilles is an injury that you really don’t want to play with because that is not good. If it gets worse, I think it’s one of the worst. So I don’t want it to get to that point, when I actually have a chance to get better.”
Williams won the French Open in 2002, 2013 and 2015 and is currently ranked ninth in the world.
The unseeded Pironkova, 33, moves into the third round of the French Open for only the third time in her career and will play either 32nd seed Barbora Strycova or Barbora Krejcikova from the Czech Republic.