Serena Williams has called off her Grand Slam comeback due to a chest muscle injury on Monday. She pulled out of the French Open shortly before she was supposed to play Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Williams said during a news conference at Roland Garros. “But also, I made a promise to myself and to my coach and to my team that if I’m not at least 60 percent or 50 percent, then I probably shouldn’t play.”
The 23 Grand Slam singles title winner said she can’t serve because of a problem with her right pectoral muscle. Her voice trembled quite a bit as she explained that she will get an MRI and consult with doctors before figuring out what she will do next. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said in an interview that an ultrasound revealed an injury to the muscle, but the severity wasn’t clear.
“The fact that I physically can’t serve at all is a good indication that maybe I should just go back to the drawing board and stay positive,” Williams said, “and try to get better and not get it to a point where it could be a lot worse.”
Williams, 36, was competing at a major tournament for the first time in 16 months — and for the first time since giving birth to her daughter last September.
Williams said her chest began hurting in her third-round singles victory over 11th-seeded Julia Goerges on Saturday.
“It was really painful,” Williams said, “and I didn’t know what it was.”
Despite that, Williams played in a doubles loss alongside her sister Venus on Sunday and tried to limit the pain by taping up the muscle. But nothing was effective enough that Williams thought she could continue in Paris.
Her withdrawal allows Sharapova, a two-time French Open champion, to move into the quarterfinals.
Their match had shaped up as the most-anticipated of the women’s tournament.
In a statement released by the tournament, Sharapova wished Williams “a speedy recovery.” This would have been their 22nd career meeting; Williams has won 19, including the past 18. Because of the withdrawal, this does not count as a victory for Sharapova, who will play 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza on Wednesday.