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Serena Williams withdraws from French Open with Achilles injury

Liz Roscher
·3-min read

Serena Williams’ quest for her record-tying 24th Grand Slam will have to wait a bit longer.

Williams was forced to withdraw from the French Open on Wednesday due to an unhealed Achilles injury. She pulled out of the tournament just an hour before she was to face Tsvetana Pironkova.

Speaking to reporters, Williams revealed that she originally injured her Achilles during her semifinal loss to Victoria Azarenka in the US Open three weeks ago, taking a medical timeout in the third set. The injury had not had time to properly heal.

"I was able to get it somewhat better but just looking long term at this tournament -- 'Will I be able to get through enough matches?' -- and so for me I don't think I could and struggling to walk so that's kind of a telltale sign that I should try to recover," Williams told reporters, via the WTA.

Williams, 39, said she’ll need about four to six weeks of sitting and doing nothing for the injury to heal correctly, and that she’s more than likely done competing in 2020.

Serena Williams acknowledging the crowd at Roland Garros.
Serena Williams has been forced to withdraw from the French Open with an Achilles injury. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Injury affected earlier round

The Achilles injury Williams sustained nearly a month ago has been affecting her throughout the French Open. She told reporters that her focus was on managing her injury instead of her opponent.

"In my first-round match, in the second set I just felt like I needed to walk with a limp and that was no good,” Williams said, via the WTA. “I had to focus on walking straight so I wasn't limping. I tried. I always give 100 percent, everyone knows that. Maybe even more than 100 if that's possible. I take solace in that. I think Achilles is a real injury that you don't want to play with because that is not good if it gets worse."

It’s a disappointing end of the season for Williams. Despite the Achilles injury, she felt that her body was at its best. Considering her recent history of back and knee issues, that’s a triumph on its own — and that’s why she’s not devastated about having to pull out. As long as her Achilles heals, she knows she’ll be back.

"I feel like my body is willing," Williams said. "This is not a nagging injury, this is an acute injury. So if it was my knee that would be more really devastating for me. But this is something that just happened and it's super acute and that's totally different. I feel like my body is doing really really well and I just ran into, for lack of a better word, bad timing and bad luck, really, in New York. It happened, but my body is actually doing really, really well."

Williams’ next opportunity to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles will come in January during the Australian Open.

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