London: Serena Williams crashed out of Wimbledon 2021 after she was forced to retire from her first round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to an injury in her right leg .
The 23-time Grand Slam champion was leading Sasnovich by a break in the first set at 3-1, serving at 15-15, before she slipped briefly at the back of the court on Tuesday.
While Williams never fell to the ground, she requested the physio after losing serve in the game, and received an off-court medical timeout before returning to the court.
Upon resumption, Sasnovich held serve in the sixth game to level at 3-3, but the match ended shortly.
After losing her footing at the baseline once more at 15-15 on serve, Williams made the decision to retire and left Centre Court to a standing ovation in emotional scenes.
With her exit, Williams’s dreams of winning an eighth Wimbledon singles title and equalling Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record of 24 ended in tears.
“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” Williams said in an Instagram post late Tuesday night..
“My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on Centre Court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on – and off – the court meant the world to me,” she added.
As a result, Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich advanced to the next round. She will now face either Nao Hibino or Bernarda Pera, whose match was suspended ahead of the third set due to darkness after they split sets at 6-1, 5-7.
“It was so nice of an atmosphere out here and it was my first time playing on Centre Court. I’m so sad for Serena,” Sasnovich said on-court after the match.
“She’s a great champion. It happens sometimes in tennis, but [I’m wishing] all the best for her for the best recovery,’ she added.