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Serena Shocker: She's out of the French Open

Achilles injury halts matches for 2020

Dwight Casimere | 9/30/2020, 9:35 a.m.
Serena Williams withdraws from 2020 French Open citing Achilles injury. Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff advance

In a week marred by cold, rainy weather and sparse crowds mandated by the pandemic, the overcast skies portended the shocking news that Serena Williams has pulled out of the French Open. The reason; a torn Achilles injury that she suffered at the US Open three weeks ago.

"I felt like I needed to walk with a limp. I had to focus on walking straight," she told a mid-day (Paris time) news conference. "I think the Achilles is a real injury you don't want to play with."

She celebrated her 39th birthday at Roland Garros last weekend and started off the week with a promising bid to finally capture

that elusive 24th record-tying Grand Slam title. This would have been her 10th bid to tie Margaret Court’s Grand Slam women’s singles record

The week began on a promising note when she clawed her way through an agonizingly long first set to defeat fellow American Kristie Ahn in two sets. She was set to Serena faces Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round after clawing her way past fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-g (2), 6-0, in a match that saw her struggling through an hour and 14 minute first set.

“I just started to feel it after the second set,” she said of her injury. “ “An Achilles is just something you don’t want to play with. I started feeling it again during my warm up this morning. I looked at my coach and we just decided it would be in my best interest not to play today.”

Serena told reporters she plans to spend the next couple of weeks just sitting and doing nothing. “I have to give myself time for this to properly heel. I’ll be recovering for the next 4-6 weeks before I begin training again. I need to take that time over the next few months. I doubt that I’ll be playing another tournament this year.

“I need time to fully recover and let this finally heal.”

That leaves Sloane Stephens and 16 year old CoCo Gauff as the remaining black women and black Americans left in the tournament.

CoCo scored an impressive win in her French Open debut Sunday, knocking out 9th seed Brit Jo Konta. Guaff will face Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan under the lights in the second round Wednesday afternoon at about 3pmCT. She is the youngest WTA champion since 2004, with wins over both Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka.

Sloane Stephens rocketed past Russian bombshell Vitalia Diatchenko to reach the second round. She’ll go up against Paula Badosa of Spain Thursday at 3amCT. For full information and scores visit tennis.com.