Gracious exit. Serena Williams stepped down from the 2020 French Open due to a previously unhealed ankle injury.
The 39-year-old tennis star announced the news to reporters at the annual Paris tournament on Wednesday, September 30, detailing the effects of her sprain. Williams was set to play Bulgarian pro Tsvetana Pironkova in her second-round match that afternoon after scoring a win over Kristie Ahn two days prior.
“I love playing in Paris,” the 23-time Grand Slam winner told the press room. “I really wanted to give an effort here. It’s my achilles that didn’t have enough to properly heal after the [U.S.] Open. I was able to get it somewhat better, but just looking long-term in this tournament, will I be able to get through enough matches? For me, I don’t think I could.”
Williams decided to bow out of the competition after sensing that she was limping during her warmup on Wednesday. “[I’m] struggling to walk, so that’s kind of a telltale sign I should try to recover,” she explained, adding that it’s “more than likely” she won’t play in another tournament this year.
The S by Serena founder withdrew from the Italian Open shortly after losing her semi-final match to Victoria Azarenka at the US Open earlier this month, where she initially suffered her injury. During the New York-based exhibition, Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian, and 3-year-old daughter, Olympia, cheered her on from the stands. The athlete and the Reddit cofounder, 37, tied the knot in November 2017.
“Alexis doesn’t dim my light,” Williams gushed in her February 2019 Allure cover story. “He doesn’t try to dim my light. He puts me in the light, even if I don’t want to be. He pushes me to further points I never thought about. It always was something that I could see in some relationships — my light would be dimmer. Now I feel like I can shine really bright and still do everything that I want to do.”
The Brooklyn native, however, doesn’t think he deserves special praise for being his wife’s biggest fan. “I am far from the perfect partner,” he told Us Weekly in July 2018. “I think it’s really important, especially in a long-distance marriage … that you make the most out of the opportunities that you have.”
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