Three-time French Open champion Serena Williams has withdrawn from Roland Garros this year due to an achilles injury. The American announced her decision to pull out ahead of her second round clash against Tsvetana Pironkova on Wednesday.
“I really wanted to give an effort here. It’s my achilles that didn’t have enough to properly heal after the Open,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said.
“I was able to get it somewhat better, but just looking long-term in this tournament, will I be able to get through enough matches? For me, I don’t think I could.
“(I’m) struggling to walk so that’s a tell-tale sign that I should try to recover.
“I warmed up and it was a very short warm-up. I talked to my coach and I was like, what do you think? What are your thoughts with this? We both thought about it and we really realized that more than likely it wasn’t the best to try and play today.”
Williams, 38, had picked up the injury during her semi-final clash against Victoria Azarenka at the US Open earlier this month. The American had come to Paris hopeful of clinching the elusive, record-equaling 24th major, and started out with a 7-6(2), 6-0 win over compatriot Kristie Ahn in the first round.
But for the second time in the last three years, Williams has had to pull out of the clay-court major due to injury. Playing her first Grand Slam since childbirth at the 2018 French Open, Williams had withdrawn before the Round of 16 clash.
Azarenka crashes out
The French Open lost another marquee name on Wednesday as former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka went down 2-6, 2-6 to World No 161 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
A former top-30 player, Schmiedlova had arrived in Paris on a 13-match losing streak in Grand Slam main draws dating back over five years.
US Open finalist Azarenka, who had complained about the weather and conditions during her opening round at the French Open, struggled from the get go. She lost serve in the first game of the match and racked up 36 unforced errors as she hurtled towards an early exit.
The 26-year-old Schmiedlova meanwhile made the third round of French Open for the second time and will next take on Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska.