A tearful Serena Williams limped out of Wimbledon on Tuesday after falling to her knees on the grass court, sobbing and clearly in pain, marking the end of her latest bid for a record, tying 24th Grand Slam singles title.
The 39-year-old tennis great started the match with a heavily bandaged right thigh.
After a lengthy break to seek treatment in the middle of the first set, against unseeded Belarussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Williams returned but the distress was evident, as she grimaced and wiped away tears before preparing to serve at 3-all, after Sasnovich came back to even the score from two games behind.
Then, in the middle of a point, Willams dropped to the ground before being helped off the court with an apparent injury.
Roger Federer expressed shock at Williams’ departure and voiced concern about the court’s surface. His first-round opponent also retired with a knee injury after a slip in the match immediately before Williams walked on the same Centre court.
Williams, who has won at Wimbledon seven times, has been a finalist in her last four appearances at the British major… but her bid to equal Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles has stalled since her last title in Australia in 2017.
Rising tennis star Coco Gauff said it was hard for her to watch the way Williams ended the match, adding “She’s the reason why I started to play tennis. It’s hard to watch any player get injured, but especially her.”