Serena Williams withdrew from the French Open on Wednesday, just moments before appearing on the court in the second round against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.
The American said that she was ordered to rest from an Achilles injury, which worsened after the US Open, and immediately made it clear that leveling Margaret Court’s record of 24 specialties is what will push her in her 40- that year.
Dismissed from 23 majors since winning in Melbourne three years ago, Williams said he would have: “Just two weeks of sitting and doing nothing, and then I was told I had to do some training. But in math, more than likely ̵
She added: “I feel like my body is ready. This is not a painful injury. This is an acute injury. If it was my knee, it would be more devastating for me, but it’s something that just happened and it’s super sharp. This is completely different.
“So, I think my body is doing really well. I just met, for lack of a better word, a bad moment and bad luck, really in New York. It happened, but my body is doing really well. And I can never do too much sitting because I’ve been working for more than twenty years.
“I like to play tennis. I love to compete and I love being here. That’s my job – and I’m still pretty good at it. So, until I feel like I’m not good, I’ll be fine. And I’m so close to some things. Like, I’m almost there. That makes me keep going. ”
Her withdrawal left questions unanswered. She said she suffered a recurrence of the injury in the seemingly easy end to her 7-6 (2), 6-0, first-round victory over her seedless compatriot Christy Ann, but still did not complain of an injury afterwards when is asked. On Wednesday, she said: “In this second set, I felt I had to limp, and that was not good. I only had to focus on walking straight. I tried. I always give 100%. Everyone knows that. Maybe even more than a hundred, if possible. I take comfort in that. I think Achilles is an injury that you really don’t want to play with because it’s not good. If it gets worse, I think it’s one of the worst. So I don’t want to get to the point where I actually have a chance to get better. “
British Federation Cup captain Anne Kyotawong said: “I am surprised because she managed to get through this match of the first round and won the second set with 6: 0. I thought it was good. She didn’t play great tennis. And she was asked after her match if her Achilles tendon was a problem – on the back of the US Open, where she was obviously – but she somehow dismissed the question and gave us no indication that it bothered her. ”
Keothavong, commenting for ITV, added: “But obviously this is a problem. This was a problem against [Victoria] Azarenka in her semifinals at the US Open – and this is one of those injuries in these conditions that you do not want to risk. It’s cold there, and if you’re carrying an injury, especially one such as an Achilles’ injury, sliding on a clay pad won’t help it improve any time soon.
“Besides, at the age of 39, it takes more time to recover from these things. Every jingle just requires more rest, more rehabilitation, more physiology. And let’s face it, [reaching] 24 [majors] it will also be very difficult for her here at the French Open. It doesn’t get easier. She has a better chance of being fit and ready in Australia by 24 than she would do here in Paris. “
As for her withdrawal, which opens up a tie, Keothavong said: “Maybe. But I don’t feel that players are as afraid to take on Serena Williams as they would have been three to five years ago. She’s still Serena Williams and you kind of respect her, but Pironkova has passed and Pironkova is actually a player who [other] players will have on their radar. She was three years away from the game, had a baby, a little boy, and in her first tournament, the US Open, reached the quarterfinals. So it would never be an easy match for Serena. “
Asked if Williams could win another slam, Keothavong said: “Never say never. I would love to see her by 24. So many people would. But I believe it will be more and more difficult for her. Players are no longer afraid of her. This will take a lot of effort. At the moment, women’s play is so open. There are no two or three players, there are five to ten players who can win a grand slam.
“If she wins somewhere, Wimbledon – absolutely. She has had great success over the years there, plus the courts. The speed, the rebound, everything corresponds to her style of tennis. And this is the surface on which other players will not be as comfortable as Serena. “