Serena Williams withdraws from French Open ahead of planned clash with Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams withdraws from French Open ahead of planned clash with Maria Sharapova
US tennis star Serena Williams has withdrawn from her French Open last 16 match against Russia’s Maria Sharapova, just hours before the encounter was planned to start.

Williams withdrew from the much-awaited matchup in Paris citing a shoulder injury. The 36-year-old was playing in her first Grand Slam since returning to the sport following the birth of her daughter last year.

She had battled past Ashleigh Barnes in the previous round, setting up a clash with long-time rival Sharapova.

In explaining the decision, Williams, a 23- time Grand Slam winner, said she had problems with her right pectoral muscle which meant she was struggling with her serve.

“In my doubles yesterday I tried a lot of different tapings and support. It didn’t get a lot better,” Williams said.

“Every match has been getting better, physically I’ve been great. I can only take solace in the fact that I’m going to get better.”

“I’m beyond disappointed. I gave up so much from time with my daughter and time with my family all for this moment. So it’s really difficult to be in this situation,” the US star added.

The withdrawal means Sharapova is granted automatic passage to the quarterfinal at Roland-Garros, where she is aiming for her third French Open title and sixth Grand Slam in total. 

She will face the winner of the clash between Garbine Muguruza of Spain and Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in the next round.

Russia’s Daria Kasatkina also advanced to the quarterfinals on Monday thanks to a straight-sets win over world number two Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

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