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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, August 25, 2021


Serena Williams' US Open is over—and her competitive future is uncertain—as the former world No. 1 withdraws from the 2021 US Open.

Photo credit: US Open Facebook

Serena Williams' US Open is over—and her competitive future is uncertain.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion has withdrawn from the US Open, which begins on Monday, as she continues recovery from a torn hamstring she suffered in her Wimbledon opener. 

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"After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring," Williams said in a statement on Instagram.

The former world No. 1 has been chasing her 24th Grand Slam title to match Margaret Court's all-time mark and bidding for a seventh US Open title to take sole possession of the Open Era record she shares with Chrissie Evert. 

"It is heartbreaking, but this is the only possible decision," Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, posted on Instagram.

Williams withdrawal marks the end of an era.

The 2021 US Open will be played without three iconic champions as Williams' withdrawal follows 20-time Grand Slam champions Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both stepping out after pulling the plug on their season because of injury.

The 40-year-old Federer announced he will undergo a third surgery on his right knee that will sideline him "many months", while 2019 champion Nadal ended his season due to a chronic left foot injury. Reigning US Open champion Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2016 US Open final, also withdrew due to injury.

Olympic gold medal champion Belinda Bencic called Williams' withdrawal "super sad."

"I was super sad; obviously we all know she's chasing history," Bencic told Fox5 News' Tina Cervasio today. "For me, already she's the greatest.

"I just hope she will be fine real soon and her injury gets well soon. And hopefully she can really come back and win that last Slam."

The US Open announced the 39-year-old superstar's departure from the draw "due to injury." 

Williams' quest to match Margaret Court's all-time major record by winning her 24th Grand Slam title ended abruptly and painfullly at Wimbledon.

The 39-year-old Williams suffered a leg injury after slipping on Centre Court in her opening match against 100th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich and ultimately retired in tears after six games.

It was the first time in 20 SW19 appearances Serena failed to survive the opening round and just the second time she retired from a Grand Slam match. Williams has not played a match since skipping the entire US Open Series and prompting speculation she would pull the plug on a Flushing Meadows return.

The 22nd-ranked Serena has posted a 12-5 record this season. Williams has attained transcendent highs and traumatic lows in New York City. A 17-year-old Serena electrified the 1999 US Open toppling five Hall of Fame champions in a row—Kim Clijsters, Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles, world No. 2 Lindsay Davenport and world No. 1 Martina Hingis—to capture her maiden major in Flushing Meadows. Seven years ago, Serena swept good friend Caroline Wozniacki  6-3, 6-3, in the 2014 final capturing her sixth US Open crown and becoming the first woman to won three consecutive US Open titles since Chris Evert won four in a row from 1975 to 1978.

Williams has reached the Flushing Meadows final in two of the last three years falling to Naomi Osaka in a controversial 2018 final that saw the former No. 1 rage at chair umpire Carlos Ramos over a coaching violation call and bowing to Bianca Andreescu 6-3, 7-5 in the 2019 final. Last September, Williams reached the Flushing Meadows final four losing to former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 3-6.

In an ESPN conference call with the media yesterday to promote the network's US Open coverage, which starts on ESPN at noon on Monday, Hall of Famer Pam Shriver predicted Williams' withdrawal saying given the four-time Olympic gold-medal champion's injury-induced inactivity, advancing age, the sometime sweltering heat of New York and the depth of the field, it would be a monumental task for Serena to go deep in the draw.

"But when you think since she came back from maternity leave she did get to four major finals, unfortunately was never in one of them really, didn't win a set in any of those four. She certainly had opportunities.

"My feeling is the depth of women's tennis over seven matches under the conditions of the US Open on a hard court at this stage for Serena is not possible. I would love for her to prove me wrong. I just don't have enough evidence that she's going to be able to stay healthy in order to do what needs to be done, to win seven matches and be the last one standing, like she did for 23 times of her historic career."


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