Why Serena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

Williams said she was “beyond disappointed.”
Williams said she was “beyond disappointed.”
Image: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
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Serena Williams’s first grand-slam tournament since giving birth last year has come to an end for her.

At a news conference, the US tennis star said she had to drop out of the French Open because of a pectoral-muscle injury that prevents her from serving the ball. She told reporters she was “beyond disappointed” she wouldn’t be able to play her highly anticipated fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova is often billed as her rival—though Williams’ dominance hasn’t left much room for a real rivalry. Still, Williams said, “It’s very difficult because I love playing Maria…. It’s a match I always get up for. Her game matches up so well against mine.” Because of the withdrawal, Sharapova will move into the quarterfinals.

Williams’ return to the French Open was a stunning comeback, after she gave birth to a daughter last year and suffered from blood clots and postpartum complications that made for a difficult recovery. She had skipped the Australian Open earlier this year, and when she made her debut at the French Open, she did so wearing a superhero-like catsuit that was designed to protect her from blood clots.

The pectoral injury, however, isn’t one she has experienced before. “I’ve never felt this in my life so I don’t really know how to manage it yet,” she said at a news conference. She added—her voice trembling according to the Associated Press—that she’s scheduled to undergo tests tomorrow (June 5) and won’t know how serious the injury is until hearing the results. “It’s extremely disappointing,” Williams said. “But also, I made a promise to myself and to my coach and to my team that if I’m not at least 60 percent or 50 percent, then I probably shouldn’t play.”

“I gave up so much time with my daughter and my family and put everything on court for this moment,” she said, and explained that physically she has actually been feeling great. “I’m going to continue to get better. I had such a wonderful performance in my first Grand Slam back.”