Serena Williams Withdraws From China Open and WTA Finals

DoThe Best
By DoThe Best October 3, 2015 14:10

Serena Williams Withdraws From China Open and WTA Finals

Serena Williams finally signalled her anguish at letting slip a calendar-year Grand Slam on Thursday as she brought her season to an early close, passing up a hefty financial windfall.

Williams pulled out of both the China Open and the year-ending WTA Finals, saying she needed “time to heal” — despite missing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses and prize money.

“I am taking a proactive step and withdrawing from tournaments in Beijing and Singapore to properly address my health and take the time to heal,” she said in a statement.(Was Boyfriend to Blame?)

Williams was two matches from equalling Steffi Graf’s record 22 Slam trophies, and 1988 sweep of all four major titles, when she suffered a stunning loss to Roberta Vinci in the US Open semis.(Serena Was Under Tremendous Pressure: Coach)

Beyond a perfunctory and bad-tempered post-match press conference in New York, Williams has so far kept her counsel about the defeat, in which she threw away a one-set lead.

But Williams, 34, who has not played since losing to Vinci, said it was her emotions rather than any physical injury which most troubled her after the dramatic choke at Flushing Meadows.

“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 said.

With the decision, Williams forfeits a US$450,000 bonus for playing all four premier mandatory tournaments, plus a cut of the $7 million prize money at the WTA Finals — an event she has won five times.

Her announcement did not come as a complete surprise after her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, this week said she was hurting and lacking motivation for the rest of the season.

“She was two matches away from something really big, so it was very painful,” Mouratoglou told ESPN.

“Any loss is very painful for her, but this one even more than usual, so it just takes time to recover from it. When the motivation comes back, which I don’t doubt it will, then it will be time to start tournaments again.”

Venus Williams, after winning a tight Wuhan Open quarter-final against Britain’s Johanna Konta, said her sister just needed to rest.

“I mean, she won everything. So if she don’t feel like playing, she has issues, you got to rest sometimes,” the elder Williams sister said.

“It’s unimaginable what it’s like to win that much. It’s hard on you. It’s hard on your body. I’ve had that problem before. It’s a great problem. But just, you get down to nothing.”

Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) president Micky Lawler admitted Williams was a loss to the gala WTA Finals but she stressed in a statement: “Serena’s health has to be her number one priority.

“The risk of injury is a reality in the world of elite athletic performance. We will miss seeing Serena on court in Singapore and wish her a speedy recovery.”

While Williams’ withdrawal is a blow to both the China Open and WTA Finals, it will also accelerate a rush for much-coveted spots at the eight-player year-end tournament.

Six of the eight places in Singapore are now up for grabs, and another will become available if Russia’s Maria Sharapova joins Williams on the sidelines.

The world number three, who had been out since Wimbledon, retired from her comeback match at the Wuhan Open this week before also pulling out of Beijing.

With injuries piling up in Wuhan, one player still going strong is Williams’ conqueror Vinci who, fresh from her first Slam final appearance, reached the Wuhan semis on Thursday.

“I’m really sorry for Serena. But Serena is Serena. (She is) still a great player also if she doesn’t play,” said the Italian, after her quarter-final win over Karolina Pliskova.

DoThe Best
By DoThe Best October 3, 2015 14:10
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