Serena Williams will not win her record-tying 24th Grand Slam women’s singles title at Wimbledon this year after withdrawing from the tournament due to injury.
In the first set of Tuesday’s first-round match on Centre Court against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, Williams slipped on the wet grass and appeared to injure her left ankle.
After taking a time out to get treatment from an athletic trainer, the seven-time Wimbledon singles champion gave it another shot. However, after losing two games, she was unable to continue.
The loss marked the first time Williams has ever failed to win her opening singles match at Wimbledon. Before Tuesday, she had been 19-0 in the first round.
The No. 6 seed wasn’t fully healthy to begin the tournament. She arrived at Centre Court with both ankles and her right thigh heavily taped. The pain was more obvious after she realized she couldn’t continue. With tears forming in her eyes, she gingerly walked off the court, waved to the fans and accepted condolences from her 27-year-old opponent.
“I am so sad for Serena,” Sasnovich told the crowd after the match. “She’s a great champion, but this happens sometimes in tennis. I wish all the best for her, and a good recovery.”
Williams last won the women’s singles title at the All England Club in 2016, though she reached the finals and lost in both 2018 and 2019. The tournament was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles overall, one short of Margaret Court’s modern record.