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By Erik Gudris | Tuesday, June 29, 2021

 
Serena Williams

Serena Williams’ injury retirement on Centre Court left players and fans shocked afterwards.

Photo Source: Getty .

Serena Williams endured heartbreak on Wimbledon’s Centre Court when she retired due to injury after slipping on the famed grass court.

The sixth seeded Williams left the court in tears after her opening round match in an outcome that shocked tennis fans, players, and commentators worldwide.

Tennis Express

Now Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, must wait for the US Open in New York to have a chance to tie Margaret Court’s 24 all-time Grand Slam singles titles total. A wait that will likely be agonizing for Williams considering she was again considered one of the top contenders to win the title, especially with 2019 winner Simona Halep and recent Australian Open title holder Naomi Osaka both not in the draw.


Williams, who entered the match with her right leg heavily strapped, appeared to suffer a knee injury after slipping on the court while facing World No. 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus.

The 39-year-old Williams declined to face the media after the match, but did leave a statement on his Instagram late Tuesday night.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” she wrote. “My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on - and off - the court meant the world to me.”

The shocking exit by Williams raised questions about the conditions on Centre Court after a two-year delay of the event being held after being cancelled last year due to the global pandemic. Many on social media recalled 2013 when several top players exited Wimbledon early due to the very slippery nature of the courts.

Before the Williams’ match, Adrian Mannarino of France slid on Centre Court and injured his knee during his first round match with Roger Federer. Federer ended up winning the match after Mannarino retired before the start of a fifth set.

While in his press conference, Federer expressed concern and disbelief for his friend when told Williams retired in her match.

“This is obviously terrible that it's back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well. Oh, my God, I can't believe it.”

“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof. I don't know if it's just a gut feeling. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down. I do feel it's drier during the day. With the wind and all that stuff, it takes the moist out of the grass,” Federer added.

The Centre Court roof was closed for the day due to ongoing rain in the area. Having the roof closed causes the conditions inside the court to become more humid and makes the grass damp, and that can cause players to slip while running for their shots.

Many players and commentators expressed their concern for Williams after the match.


Mary Joe Fernandez on ESPN said she was still in shock about the match.

Coco Gauff, after her first round win said the following. “With Serena, I mean, it was hard for me to watch that. I'm a big fan of her, even though I'm a competitor now. But she's the reason why I started to play tennis. It's hard to watch any player get injured, but especially her.”

Gauff, who could have faced Williams in the fourth round, said she had to turn away from television coverage of the match as it unfolded.

“Yeah, it was not easy to watch. I turned away. I was in the gym actually stretching. I turned away because stuff like that makes me, like, really emotional. I wish her the best. I wish that hopefully she can have a speedy recovery. Yeah, you could tell she was really emotional. Nobody ever wants to retire, but especially at a Grand Slam, a place as special as Wimbledon after waiting two years to come back.”

Sasnovich after the result expressed her concern for Williams.

“It's very sad for me, honestly, when your opponent feel bad. You know, she's a great champion, and it's sad story.”

Williams entered Centre Court with her right thigh heavily strapped before the start of the match. She earned an early service break and soon led 3-1.

In the next game, Williams appeared to take misstep in the backcourt. She dropped her serve and then walked to the umpire when she requested a trainer.

Soon, Williams called for a medical time out where she then received an off-court evaluation.

Williams returned to the court but with a noticeable limp. At 3-all, Williams began crying as she attempted to serve. At 15-15, Williams went for another shot but again fell to her knees.

With that, a tearful Williams soon retired from the match. The Centre Court crowd gave her a standing ovation as she left the court.


This is Williams’ only other loss in the first round of a major. The last time being in 2012 to Virginie Razzano at Roland Garros. She had not retired from a match at a Grand Slam since 1998, when she pulled out with a leg injury in the third round of her Wimbledon debut.

 

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