'Regretfully withdraw': Serena Williams' new blow after US Open loss

Serena Williams, pictured here during her loss in the US Open semi-finals.
Serena Williams suffered an Achilles injury in the US Open semi-finals. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Serena Williams has been forced to withdraw from the upcoming Italian Open in a fresh blow after her loss in the US Open semi-finals.

The four-time champion withdrew from the event in Rome on Saturday, citing the Achilles issue that bothered her in a loss to Victoria Azarenka at Flushing Meadows.

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Williams took a medical timeout for a tape job on her Achilles during her three-set loss on Thursday.

“I regretfully must withdraw from the (Italian Open) due to an Achilles strain,” Williams said.

“I'm so humbled by the continuous support from my fans in Rome and I look forward to making my return soon.”

Fans took to social media with sadness after Serena’s announcement.

The Italian Open, which was rescheduled from May due to the coronavirus pandemic, begins on Monday.

Azarenka remained entered for Rome and was drawn to play Venus Williams in the first round.

In the men’s tournament, US Open finalists Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev also withdrew, as did Daniil Medvedev, who lost to Thiem in the semi-finals in New York.

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal headlines the field in the Italian capital, marking his return to tennis after a seven-month layoff. He has been practicing in Rome for several days.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who was disqualified from the US Open, is also entered.

The clay-court tournament in Rome is a warm-up event for the French Open, which starts on September 27.

Serena doesn’t blame injury for US Open loss

Williams was already struggling to keep up in a fast-paced US Open semi-final when she stopped behind the baseline after a third-set point and leaned over.

She held that pose for a bit, then clutched at her left ankle and asked for a trainer.

While Williams took a medical timeout, her latest bid for a 24th grand slam singles title seemingly slipping away, Azarenka sat in a sideline seat, eyes closed, calm and composed as can be.

After a delay, action resumed, and while Williams raised the force of her shots and volume of her shouts, it was Azarenka who finished off a 1-6 6-3 6-3 victory to return to a major championship final for the first time since 2013.

Serena Williams, pictured here having her ankle re-taped in the third set against Victoria Azarenka.
Serena Williams had her ankle re-taped in the third set against Victoria Azarenka. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The loss left Williams just short of No.24 yet again.

With her 39th birthday a little more than two weeks away, the question will become: How many more chances will Williams get?

She did confirm afterward she'll head to Paris for the French Open.

“Obviously, disappointed, but at the same time, I did what I could today,” Williams said.

“Other times, I've been close and I could have done better. Today, I gave a lot.”

Williams said the leg issue wasn’t why she lost.

“I don't think that had anything to do with it,” she said. “Ultimately, it didn't affect my play at all.”

with agencies