Serena Williams says that she is cutting her season short and withdrawing from the WTA Finals and the China Open, the final two tournaments she was scheduled to play in this year.
Williams announced Thursday that she is cutting the season because she needs to take the time to heal both mentally and physically after a series of injuries and the heartbreak following her loss at the U.S. Open, where she was only two wins away from a calendar-year Grand Slam, ESPN reports.
“It’s no secret I’ve played injured most of the year — whether it was my elbow, my knee, or, in the final moments after a certain match in Flushing, my heart,” Williams was quoted saying on the China Open website.
This year, Williams has been victorious at Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the French Open. A win at the U.S. Open would have made Serena the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four of the major tournaments in the same calendar year. But, Williams fell short of expectations and was not able to come away with the win, instead losing to Italian player Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals.
“Any loss is very painful for her, but this one even more than usual, so it just takes time to recover from it,” Mouratoglou said. “She was two matches away from something really big, so it was very painful.”
Williams hasn’t played since the U.S. Open semifinals, and says cutting the season short is a proactive step, reports New York Times.
“I want to compete as well as I can as long as I can,” she said. “So I’m taking a proactive step and withdrawing from tournaments in Beijing and Singapore to properly address my health and take the time to heal.”
“This is a very difficult decision, but one ultimately made because of the love of the game,” Williams said. “I plan to return to practicing and participating in exhibition matches later this year. And when I do, l will focus and focus and focus so I can continue my journey in this beautiful game.”
Williams won the last three WTA Finals, a tournament that features the world’s top eight players. Total, she has won the tournament five times.
WTA president Micky Lawler said the following in a statement on Thursday.
“Serena’s health has to be her No. 1 priority. The risk of injury is a reality in the world of elite athletic performance. We will miss seeing Serena on court in both Beijing and Singapore and wish her a speedy recovery.”
According to ESPN, although Williams is cutting her season short, she played and won long enough to secure the year-end No. 1 ranking. Overall, this is her fifth season and third straight year with that ranking.
“I don’t doubt she will have the motivation to win more Grand Slams and reach records,” Mouratoglou said.
At present, Serena is only one title shy of Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam championships career total, and three short of Margaret Court’s 24 titles.
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