Tennis star Serena Williams was forced to pull out of Wimbledon early after a slippery Centre Court injured her right leg.
On Tuesday, Williams played her first-round match against unseeded Belarussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich where she slipped in the fifth game.
The 39-year old American player limped away and took a long break before she returned to the court, later slipping again in the seventh game. It was evident that Williams could no longer continue; she left the court in tears with a standing ovation.
“I’m so sad for Serena,” Sasnovich said. “She’s a great champion. It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best to her.”
Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon champion and 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, had been gunning for her 24th Grand Slam title, which would have put her on equal footing with Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Though after this injury, there’s no telling when she can return to the court.
Williams took to social media shortly after the incident. In an Instagram post, she said, “I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg. My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on – and off – the court meant the world to me.”
Upon hearing of Williams’ injury, fellow tennis star Roger Federer was shocked. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it,” he said. “I feel for a lot of players it’s super key to get through those first two rounds because the grass is more slippery, it is more soft. As the tournament progresses, usually it gets harder and easier to move on.”
2013 champion Marion Bartoli remained hopeful about her return. He told the BBC, “I sincerely hope it is not the last time we see her at Wimbledon. I still feel she can win that 24th major, she has it inside her.”