Serena Williams Withdraws From French Open Before Playing Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams is forfeiting her chance for another Grand Slam title.

The tennis champ formally withdrew from the French Open shortly before her highly anticipated fourth-round match against Russia’s Maria Sharapova, who will now play either Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza or Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in the quarterfinals.

At a press conference in Paris, Williams told members of the media that she had a pectoral muscle injury, which flared up during her Saturday match against Julia Görges.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been having some issues with my pec muscle,” she said. “Right now, I can’t actually serve.”

The 23-time Grand Slam winner returned to the court after a 14-month hiatus due to the birth of daughter Alexis Olympia in September. She last played in a doubles match with sister Venus on Sunday, losing to No. 3 seeds Andreja Klepac and María José Martínez Sánchez.

“I thought [doubles] was a perfect opportunity to see how I was going,” Williams said. “I tried a lot of different tapings and support. It didn’t get a lot better.”

Fans eagerly awaited Williams’ showdown with Sharapova on the Philippe-Chartier Court when the draw was made at this year’s Roland-Garros tournament. Since their first meeting on the court in 2003, Williams has won 19 of their 21 matches, with both of Sharapova’s victories coming in 2004 — the year she won the Wimbledon Championships.

As for Williams’ Wimbledon prospects, the tennis star remained noncommittal. She announced in the press conference that she has an MRI scan scheduled for Tuesday.

“It’s very difficult. I love playing Maria. I’ve made every sacrifice I could,” she said. “I made a commitment to myself and my team that if I wasn’t at least 60 percent, I wouldn’t play. I’ve never felt this in my life. It’s so painful.”

She added: “I’m beyond disappointed. I gave up so much from time with my daughter and time with my family all for this moment, so it’s really difficult to be in this situation.”

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