Serena Williams announced her shock withdrawal from the French Open with injury on Monday just minutes before her scheduled fourth-round clash against long-time bitter rival and fellow Grand Slam icon Maria Sharapova.
The 36-year-old said she had suffered a pectoral muscle injury in her third-round win over Julia Goerges and “can’t serve at all”.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion added that she would stay in Paris for scans on the injury to find out how long she will be out of action.
“I unfortunately have been having some issues with my pec, my pec muscle, and (it) has unfortunately been getting worse to the point where right now I can’t actually serve. It’s kind of hard to play when I can’t physically serve,” she explained.
She was unable to say whether or not she would be fit for Wimbledon which gets underway in four weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, top-seeded Simona Halep advanced to the French Open quarterfinals for the third time by beating Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-1 on Monday.
Halep, who lost in last year’s final to Jeļena Ostapenko, broke the 16th-seeded Belgian’s serve six times on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Serving for the match, Halep dropped her serve for the first time. She broke right back, winning on her first match point when Mertens double-faulted.
Halep, who also lost in the 2014 final, will next face two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber.
Kerber reached the quarterfinals in Paris for the second time by beating Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-3.
Garcia saved four match points when serving while trailing 5-1. But Kerber took her next chance when the seventh-seeded Garcia, again serving to stay in the match, hit a forehand wide.
Kerber has never been beyond the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.