Serena Williams has withdrawn from Roland Garros just moments before her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova.
The stunning news was first reported on a French TV channel, which confirmed that the former World No 1 was pulling out of the much-anticipated clash with arch-rival Sharapova because of an arm injury.
Williams then held a hastily-assembled news conference to confirm her withdrawal.
“It’s very difficult because I love playing Maria,” said the American. “It’s a match I always get up for. Her game matches up so well against mine.”
Williams, who is scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday, said the pectoral injury isn’t something she’s suffered before but it flared up in her match against Julia Goerges over the weekend.
“I unfortunately have been having some issues with my pec muscle,” explained Williams, gesturing towards the area of her sternum. “I have never had this before and it’s so painful. It’s been getting worse to the point where right now I can’t actually serve.”
“I’ve never felt this in my life so I don’t really know how to manage it yet,” she said. “But this is a little different .. I’m clueless as to what to do.”
The news means that Sharapova advances straight through to the quarter-finals, where she will take on the winner of the match between third seed Garbine Muguruza and Lesia Tsurenko.
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