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Tennis News Flash • Serena Williams Withdraws From 2018 Roland Garros

Serena Williams of the USA reacts as she plays Ashley Barty of Australia during their women’s second round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 31 May 2018. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON



By Richard Pagliario


The blockbuster Roland Garros showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova is over before it began.


Williams withdrew from the tournament before her scheduled fourth-round clash with Sharapova due to a strained pectoral muscle. Williams told the media in Paris she’s unable to serve because of the injury.


“I unfortunately have been having some issues with my pec muscle and unfortunately it’s been getting worse to the point where right now I can’t actually serve,” Williams told reporters. “It’s kind of hard to play when I can’t physically serve.”


The three-time champion’s withdrawal sends Sharapova into her first French Open quarterfinal since 2014 when she defeated Simona Halep to capture her second Roland Garros crown.


“It’s very difficult because I love playing Maria,” Williams said. “It’s a match I always get up for. Its extremely disappointing but I made a promise to myself that if I’m not at least 50 percent, I shouldn’t play”.


The 28th-seeded Sharapova will face either 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza or Lesia Tsurenko for a semifinal spot.


The unseeded Williams has won 18 consecutive matches against Sharapova.


Their highly-hyped fourth-round meeting was further fueled by Serena slamming Maria’s assertions about her in her memoir, Unstoppable: My Life So Far.


“I think the book was 100 percent hearsay,” Williams told the media.


Serena Williams of the USA plays Julia Goerges of Germany during their men’s third round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 02 June 2018. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

The 23-time Grand Slam champion said she initially felt pectoral pain during her third-round sweep of 11th-seeded German Julia Goerges.


“It didn’t start before I got here,” Williams said. “The first time I felt it was against Goerges in my last match. That’s when I started to feel it. It was really painful and I didn’t know what it was.”


Despite the pain, Williams partnered sister Venus in a doubles loss on Sunday. By the end of that match, Serena’s serve speed was below 90 mph. She said she played doubles to test taping jobs for her singles match today.


“In my doubles yesterday, I tried a lot of different tapings and I tried lots of different types of support to see how it would feel under match circumstances and it didn’t really get a lot better.”


The injury leaves Williams’ status for Wimbledon uncertain.


“I’m going to get an MRI tomorrow. I’m going to stay here and see some of the doctors here, see as many specialists as I can,” Williams said. “I won’t know (about playing Wimbledon) until I get those results.”

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