“It’s Kind Of Hard To Play When I Can’t Physically Serve”

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Paris: Serena Williams announced her withdrawl from French open on Monday for an injury to her right pectoral muscle that forced her to withdraw shortly before their fourth-round match was set to begin.

After a resurgent first week at the French Open, Serena Williams was stopped short not by her would-be opponent, Maria Sharapova, but by her massive injury. “Right now I can’t actually serve,” said Williams, 36, as she announced her withdrawal in an overstuffed interview room at Roland Garros. “It’s kind of hard to play when I can’t physically serve.”

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This is the latest setback in Williams’s comeback after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia, last September.

“I’m beyond disappointed,” she said. “You know, I gave up so much, from time with my daughter to time with my family. I put everything on the court, you know. All for this moment. So it’s really difficult to be in this situation, but I always, for now in my life, I just always try to think positive and just think of the bigger picture and hopefully the next events and the rest of the year.”

Williams officially returned to the tour in March at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., where she reached the third round. But after losing in the first round of the Miami Open to Naomi Osaka a week later, Williams did not play on tour for nearly two months, choosing to focus on improving her fitness and honing her game at her coach Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy near Nice, France.

She played no clay-court warm-up tournaments before the French Open and arrived here ranked 453rd and unseeded. But she quickly began hitting high notes once the tournament began, winning three rounds and defeating two seeded players — No. 17 Ash Barty and No. 11 Julia Görges — to set up her latest duel with Sharapova, whom she has defeated 18 times in a row.

This is the first time Williams has withdrawn in the midst of a Grand Slam tournament, although she did retire midmatch in the third round of Wimbledon in 1998 against Virginia Ruano Pascual after injuring her left leg in a fall.

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