‘Bad Timing And Bad Luck’: Injured Serena Out Of French Open

‘Bad Timing And Bad Luck’: Injured Serena Out Of French Open

PARIS: Serena Williams laughed at her own jokes and sounded an upbeat tone or one as positive, at least, as could be expected from a player whose latest bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title ended because of injury, as did her season, probably.

Williams tried to warm up for her second-round match at Roland Garros on Wednesday but huddled afterward with her coach and determined that if walking on the Achilles tendon she hurt at the U.S. Open nearly three weeks ago was difficult, then trying to run and compete made little sense.

If it was my knee, that would be more really devastating for me. But this is something that just happened, and its super acute. Thats totally different. I feel like my body is actually doing really, really well, said Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday. I just ran into, for lack of a better word, bad timing and bad luck, really, in New York.

Williams withdrew about an hour before she would have played Tsvetana Pironkova at Court Philippe Chatrier, her earliest exit from a major tournament in six years and the most significant development in Paris on Day 4, which also included a straight-set loss by U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka and straightforward wins for Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem over a couple of American men.

Thats disappointing on many levels, of course, said John Isner, the 21st-seeded man who was beaten in four sets by 20-year-old American qualifier Sebastian Korda. Its disappointing personally for Serena, but its disappointing for the tournament and for tennis fans worldwide.

Williams departure, and the 10th-seeded Azarenkas 6-2, 6-2 dismissal by 161st-ranked Anna Karolina Schmiedlova someone who lost 13 consecutive Grand Slam matches until defeating Williams’ older sister, Venus, earlier this week meant zero of the four female semifinalists at Flushing Meadows made it past the second round at Roland Garros.

Champion Naomi Osaka didnt make the trip to France at all; No. 21 seed Jennifer Brady was upset in her opening match by a 17-year-old qualifier.

The French Opens start was postponed to September from May because of the coronavirus pandemic, and there were plenty of questions beforehand about what effects there would be from the quick and unusual shift from North America to Europe, from hard courts to red clay.

Azarenka wouldnt entertain the premise.

Im just going to speak only for myself, and I will say that today was not the case of a turnaround, was not the case of the court, was not the case of anything else, said the former No. 1 and two-time Australian Open champion. This is a lesson for me to learn. I dont think about what happened in New York, today. So, to me, it doesnt really matter.

It was in the third set of Williams semifinal against Azarenka at Flushing Meadows that Williams stretched her left Achilles while chasing a shot. Williams took a long pause, clutched at that leg and then took a medical timeout so a trainer could wrap it.

Didnt have enough time to properly heal after the Open. I was able to get it somewhat better, but just looking long-term in this tournament, will I be able to get through enough matches? And so, for me, I dont think I could, Williams said Wednesday. Im struggling to walk, so thats kind of a telltale sign that I should try to recover.

She played with a vertical strip of black athletic tape along her Achilles during her first-round match Monday, but there were no obvious sign of trouble during the 7-6 (2), 6-0 victory over Kristie Ahn.

I felt like I needed to, like, walk with a limp, Williams said, and that was no good.

This is the second time in her past three appearances in Paris that she pulled out of the French Open before a match because of an injury. It happened in 2018, when she was to face Maria Sharapova in the fourth round; that was Williams first Grand Slam tournament in more than a year because she was off the tour while having a baby.

After that, she was the runner-up at four of the next six majors, falling just short of adding to her professional-era record of 23 Slam singles championships and equaling Margaret Courts all-era mark.

Williams said she needs a month or more now of sitting and doing nothing because of the Achilles, meaning her 2020 is more than likely done.

If anyone was wondering whether Williams is thinking about moving on after more than two decades as a transcendent figure in her sport, she offered an encouraging message.

I love playing tennis, obviously. I love competing. And I love being out here. Its my job; been my job. And Im pretty good at it still, Williams said.

Im so close to some things, I just feel like Im almost there,” she said, “so I think thats what keeps me going.

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AP Tennis Writer Fendrich reported from Washington; AP Sports Writer Pugmire reported from Paris.

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