Serena Williams withdrew from the 2020 French Open on Wednesday because of a lingering left Achilles injury she originally suffered while competing in the U.S. Open earlier this month, making the announcement before her scheduled second-round match against Tsvetana Pironkova.
- "I really wanted to give an effort here. It's my Achilles that didn't have enough time to properly heal after the [U.S.] Open," Williams told reporters on Wednesday.
- Williams, 39, initially injured her hamstring during her semifinal loss to Victoria Azarenka at the U.S. Open on September 10th.
- Two days later, she announced she was skipping the Italian Open to give herself additional rest before the start of the French Open, the season's final major.
- Williams said Wednesday that she decided to withdraw after trying to warm up for her match against Pironkova and felt she needed to walk with a limp.
- "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 explained Wednesday.
Williams had won her opening match at this year's French Open against Kristie Ahn 7-6, 6-0. The 39-year-old superstar is chasing an elusive, record-tying 24th grand slam title. Many pundits thought she had an excellent chance to capture another major at the U.S. Open, as the field was thinned out and lacking several top-ranked players who had decided not to play due to Covid-19 concerns. However, Williams injured her left Achilles' tendon early in the third set of her semifinal match vs. Azarenka and was far from 100% the rest of the way. The French Open was initially scheduled to start in May but was shifted to September due to the coronavirus pandemic. Williams said she believes she will require two weeks of rest and four to six weeks of recovery. She also stated that she "more than likely" won't play another tournament this year.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Williams is one of two women in the Open era to win a major title in her teens, 20s and 30s, and Serena has won 10 major titles since her 30th birthday, seven more than any other woman in the Open era (Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova).
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Williams' next opportunity to match Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam titles will be at the 2021 Australian Open, which is scheduled to begin in January.
"I had to focus on walking straight so I wasn't limping. I tried — I always give 100% and everyone knows that — maybe even more than 100% if that's possible," said Williams. "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. I think it's one of the worst."
$93 Million: That's the total amount Williams has earned in career prize money, which is twice as much as any other female athlete, according to Forbes.