French Open

Serena Williams pulls out of the French Open with injury

The highly-anticipated grudge match between the American great and Russia’s Maria Sharapova will not go ahead after the 23-time grand slam champion withdraws from the showdown

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 9:40pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 10:50pm

American Serena Williams withdrew from the French Open on Monday, shortly before she was due on court to face Maria Sharapova in a much-anticipated fourth round showdown.

The 36-year-old 23-times grand slam champion, making a comeback after a maternity break, told a news conference she had a pectoral muscle injury.

“Unfortunately I’m having some issues with my pec muscle. Right now I can’t actually serve it’s kind of hard to play,” she said.

“I’m having an MRI [scan] tomorrow, I’m going to stay here to see the doctors and see as many specialists as I can. I won’t know (how serious the injury is) until I get those results.”

Williams had worked hard to get back in shape and was making her grand slam comeback at the French Open following the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia last September.

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“Physically I’m doing great. It hasn’t been easy. I sacrificed so much to be at this event. I’m going to continue to get better. I had such a wonderful performance in my first grand slam back,” she added.

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.

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 per cent hearsay” when it came to references about her.

Sharapova, the champion in Paris in 2012 and 2014, goes on to play a first quarter-final at the slams since losing to Williams at the same stage at the 2016 Australian Open.

It was in Melbourne that Sharapova tested positive for meldonium after which she served a 15-month doping ban. The Russian will face either 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza or Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine for a semi-final place.

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Monday’s bombshell announcement was the first time in her 20-year career that Williams had pulled out during a grand slam event.

Despite her well-documented fall-outs with Sharapova, Williams insisted she had been looking forward to the match.

“I love playing Maria – it’s just a match I always get up for. Her game matches so well against mine.”

Reuters, Agence France-Presse