Serena Williams withdrew from the French Open on Wednesday ahead of her second round match with an Achilles injury, as the American’s bid for a 24th Grand Slam title suffered another blow.
The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, had arrived in Paris carrying an Achilles injury that prompted her to skip the Rome tune-up event.
“The Achilles didn’t have enough time to heal after the US Open,” said Williams.
“I was struggling to walk and that is a tell-tale sign that I should try to recover.”
The injury likely means she will miss the rest of 2020, leaving the Australian Open in 2021 as her next chance to equal Margaret Court’s all-time majors record.
“I need four to six weeks of sitting and doing nothing,” she said. “It’s more than likely that I won’t play another tournament this year.”
Her decision to pull out handed Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova a walkover and left Williams searching for a first major since the last of her 23 titles at Melbourne in 2017.
On the day Serena was forced to withdraw due to injury, her US Open semi-final opponent Victoria Azarenka crashed out of the French Open.
The Belarussian, who moaned about the cold and damp conditions during her opening round win, capitulated on Court Simonne-Mathieu and lost 6-2 6-2 to Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
Prior to Schmiedlova’s first-round win over Venus Williams, she had lost 13 consecutive Grand Slam matches in run which dated back to 2015.
Schmiedlova took full advantage of Azarenka’s 36 unforced errors and the fact that the Belarussian could not convert a single break point that she created.
She will face Nadia Podoroska in the third round, who beat Yulia Putintseva 6-3 1-6 6-2.