Serena Williams pulls out of Italian Open with recurrence of knee injury

Simon Briggs
The Telegraph

The odds on Serena Williams equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 major titles would seem to be lengthening, after the world’s most famous player pulled out of Rome on Tuesday with a recurrence of the same left knee injury that had forced her to withdraw from Miami almost two months ago.

Williams – who has been stuck on 23 slams since she embarked on maternity leave in February 2017 – had looked to be moving well in a convincing first-round win over Rebecca Peterson on Monday. But it seems that her body did not respond well to the work-out. “I’ll be concentrating on rehab,” she said in a statement, “and look forward to seeing you all at the French Open and next year in Rome.”

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Williams’s knees have given her trouble for some time. As early as 2015, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou acknowledged that “The cartilage is not gone, not all of it, but a big part.” At 37, her body is threatening to become as much of an opponent as any of the other players, judging by the lengthy list of events she has missed since her return to the court a year ago.

Meanwhile Roger Federer – another crowdpleasing name who has spent little time on the match court recently – has expressed his disappointment at the Rome Masters’ decision to double ticket prices for his first match against Portugal’s Joao Sousa on Wednesday.

When asked about the subject on Tuesday, Federer replied “Disappointing. They made it in a way like they rewarded the fans who bought tickets earlier? Which is sort of strange, but okay. I just really hope it doesn’t take away the fact I’m really happy to be here.”

Meanwhile world No. 1 Novak Djokovichas continued to duck responsibility for the controversial decisions being taken by the player representatives on the ATP board, telling reporters Tuesday that “I don’t think it’s fair that you guys point out myself as the decision maker. I’m president of the [player] council, but it consists of ten players.”

The player council attempted to elect a replacement for the disgraced Justin Gimelstob yesterday, but the vote was deadlocked at 5-5 between Weller Evans and Nicolas Lapentti. A second vote will be held at Wimbledon.

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