Serena Williams withdrew from her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon today due to an apparent right leg injury.
Williams was leading 3-1 in the first set when, while Williams was at serve up 40-15, she visibly winced when returning a shot, her right leg appearing to slip on the grass as she was hitting the ball. Williams dropped the game, clearly hindered in movement. In the next game, Williams was either barely able to move or near completely unable to do so. The set now tied at three, with Williams at serve and the game at fifteen-all, Williams crumpled to the turf when attempting to reach Sasnovich’s return. She remained on hands and knees for a few seconds, then struggled to her feet and acknowledged the crowd while walking off the court.
Williams has struggled with injuries throughout her career and especially the past few seasons, among them an Achilles’ tendon injury in 2020. Williams’ most recent tournament victory came earlier that year. Her most recent major tournament victory was the 2017 Australian Open, in which she defeated her sister Venus while eight weeks pregnant.
Earlier this year, after her loss to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open, Williams declined to answer whether her lingering longer than usual and acknowledging the crowd following the match was a sign of her possibly retiring. She then lost composure and exited the press conference.
Was today the last time for Williams at Wimbledon? She is 39, and clearly past her prime. Her record as one of the, if not the single, greatest female tennis players in the game’s history is unassailable. She doesn’t need the money from tournament appearances. Obviously, the competitive fire and belief in self still burn bright, or else she would not be pushing herself to go on despite the setbacks. Only Williams has the right to say when it is time to call it a day. But for her fans, and for anyone who appreciates athletic greatness regardless of whether they are a fan of the athlete in question (*coughlebronjamescough*), it is a sad sight to see someone possibly limp away from the game rather than being able to walk away on his or her own terms.