Serena Williams pulls out of French Open with muscle injury


Serena Williams has shocked fans by pulling out of the French Open tennis tournament shortly before she was due to face Maria Sharapova.

The 36-year-old had breezed through the early rounds of her first grand slam tournament since giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia last September (17), to set up a hotly anticipated fourth round clash with the Russian, who returned to tennis last year after a drugs ban, on Monday (4Jun18).

However, shortly before she was due on court in Paris Serena withdrew from the match, and told a press conference she was suffering from a pectoral muscle injury that left her unable to serve.

“Unfortunately I’m having some issues with my pec muscle. Right now I can’t actually serve so it’s kind of hard to play,” she told reporters at the Roland-Garros venue.

The 23-time singles Grand Slam champion revealed she will undergo an MRI scan on Tuesday to discover the severity of the injury – which may keep her out of Wimbledon next month.

Maria, 31, is a longtime rival of Serena, having beaten her in the 2004 Wimbledon final. However, their rivalry has been one-sided as the American hadn’t lost to her in 14 years before forfeiting Monday’s match.

Explaining her desire to face Maria, Serena added, “It’s very difficult. I love playing Maria. I’ve made every sacrifice I could. I made a commitment to myself and my team that if I wasn’t at least 60 per cent I wouldn’t play. I’ve never felt this in my life. It’s so painful.

“I’m beyond disappointed. I gave up so much from time with my daughter and time with my family all for this moment. So it’s really difficult to be in this situation.”