Rafa Nadal has sent a heartwarming message to Serena Williams after she stunned the tennis world on Wednesday night after withdrawing from the French Open.
Williams announced her withdrawal from Roland Garros less than an hour before her clash with Tsvetana Pironkova, citing a recurrence of an Achilles injury she suffered at the US Open.
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The shock announcement means the American’s bid for a 24th grand slam title suffered another blow and sparked further doubts over the 39-year-old’s long-term future in the sport.
Williams, a three-time champion in Paris, had arrived at the tournament carrying the Achilles tendon injury from a gruelling US Open semi-final defeat to Victoria Azarenka.
Nadal put on a masterclass in his Second Round victory at the French Open, but was asked about Williams in his post-match interview.
The Spaniard wished Williams all the best and said her passion for the sport makes him believe she will be ready to return soon.
“I really don’t like to talk about things that I don’t know very well. I don’t want to speculate how bad is the injury or not. Of course, is very sad news for tennis, for Roland Garros, and especially for her,” Nadal said.
“Sorry for her. I just can wish her a fast and good recovery. Is true that all the comebacks are tough, especially when you get a little bit older every time is more difficult, no?
“She showed amazing passion for this sport. I really believe that she will be good in the next couple of months.”
Serena Williams Grand Slam doubt
The injury likely means she will miss the rest of 2020, leaving the Australian Open in 2021 as her next chance to equal Margaret Court's all-time majors record.
“I need four to six weeks of sitting and doing nothing,” said Williams, the Roland Garros champion in 2002, 2013 and 2015.
“It's more than likely that I won’t play another tournament this year.”
Williams, now into her fourth decade on tour, has not won a slam since capturing a seventh Australian Open in 2017 when she was pregnant.
Since then, it’s been a series of near-misses for a player who also pulled out of Paris in 2018 on the even of an eagerly-awaited last-16 clash with Maria Sharapova.
After returning from giving birth, she reached the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and 2019.
In 2020, she fell in three sets in the fourth round in Australia to China’s Wang Qiang while the cancellation of Wimbledon was another roadblock.
She will leave Paris knowing full well that such a disrupted season represented her best opportunity to add to her majors haul.
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