Serena’s US Open plans up­ended

Tear­ful Wil­liams re­tires in­jured in Toronto final

Global Times US Edition - - SPORTS -

A tear­ful Serena Wil­liams saw her US Open prepa­ra­tion thrown into dis­ar­ray Sun­day as back spasms forced her out of the WTA Toronto final af­ter just four games, hand­ing Cana­dian teenager Bianca An­dreescu the ti­tle.

An­dreescu, 19, was up 3-1 with a break of serve when 23time Grand Slam cham­pion Wil­liams de­cided she couldn’t con­tinue.

She called for a med­i­cal time­out, but within a minute, the um­pire an­nounced she was re­tir­ing.

“I just knew,” said Wil­liams, adding she’d un­der­gone hours of treat­ment be­fore the match to com­bat the back spasms she’d first felt in a semi­fi­nal win on Satur­day night. “I knew I wasn’t go­ing to be able to con­tinue.”

An­dreescu ap­proached her chair, of­fer­ing words of en­cour­age­ment and a con­so­la­tory hug as Wil­liams tried to fight back tears.

Wil­liams said the spasms started dur­ing her come-frombe­hind win over Czech qual­i­fier Marie Bouzkova on Satur­day “and it just got worse.”

“Just my whole back just com­pletely spasmed, and to a point where I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t re­ally move,” she said.

Nev­er­the­less, she wanted to give it a go in the final.

“I don’t want to get this far and not at least try,” said the 37-year-old, who was eye­ing her 73rd WTA ti­tle – and her first since the birth of her daugh­ter, Olympia, in Septem­ber 2017.

Beaten by Si­mona Halep in the Wim­ble­don final in July, Wil­liams was play­ing just her 24th match of a year al­ready dis­rupted by nag­ging knee trou­ble.

Wil­liams hasn’t won a ti­tle since the 2017 Aus­tralian Open.

Since re­turn­ing to com­pe­ti­tion af­ter Olympia’s birth, she has reached three Grand Slam fi­nals – and she re­mained op­ti­mistic that she would be ready to try to match Aus­tralian Mar­garet Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams when the US Open starts on Au­gust 26.

“Well, that’s the most frus­trat­ing part is that I’ve had this be­fore and it’s, like, 24, 36 hours where I’m just in crazy spasm and then it’s, like, gone,” said Wil­liams, who wasn’t im­me­di­ately sure whether she’d play this week in Cincin­nati.

“So that’s a lit­tle bit frus­trat­ing for me be­cause I know that I could play. I just can’t play to­day.

“If it’s what typ­i­cally hap­pens, I will be fine, but I have to wait and see.”

For An­dreescu, Sun­day’s events were a bit­ter­sweet achieve­ment as she be­came the first Cana­dian to win the ti­tle since Faye Ur­ban in 1969.

“I know how it is to pull out of tour­na­ments and be in­jured – it’s not easy,” An­dreescu said, ad­dress­ing Wil­liams di­rectly dur­ing the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion.

“This wasn’t the way I ex­pected to win and for you to go off the court. I’ve watched you play so many times. You are truly a cham­pion on and off the court.”

An­dreescu claimed her sec­ond WTA Premier level ti­tle of the year, hav­ing rock­eted to promi­nence in March when she be­came the first wild card to win at In­dian Wells.

“This week has not been easy. I’ve had many, many tough matches,” said An­dreescu, who opened the week with an emo­tional three-set win over com­pa­triot Eu­ge­nie Bouchard and played three more three­set­ters.

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