Fans show support for Serena Williams after Wimbledon injury

The 23-time Grand Slam champion has hit another obstacle in her quest to surpass the all-time win record

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Over the course of her storied career, Serena Williams has been victorious many times. But her quest to set the all-time Grand Slam title record held by Margaret Court has again hit an obstacle.

Williams, 39, was forced to exit her first-round Wimbledon match vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, pulling out with what appeared to be a leg injury on Tuesday. Though the crowd in London cheered her on and tried to offer encouragement, a tearful Williams, dressed in a one-armed white tennis dress, left the court.

Day Two: The Championships - Wimbledon 2021
Serena Williams is forced to withdraw from her first round match with Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus at Wimbledon on June 29, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by AELTC/Jed Leicester – Pool/Getty Images)

Her family, including her mother Oracene Price and sister Isha Price, along with her coach Patrick Mouratoglou looked on in concern as Williams, her right thigh heavily taped, slipped on the grass and then fell. She appeared to twist her left ankle, per The New York Times.

She was holding a 3-1 lead in the first set but after returning with her ankle taped, Sasnovich got the score to three games apiece. Before her next serve, Williams was crying, then slipped while trying to change direction and at that point, made the decision to leave, greeting Sasnovich at the net in tears.

She then waved to the cheering crowd and exited the court.

Williams was sent well wishes on social media from fans, in particular Black Twitter.

In her long history of Grand Slam play, Williams has only been out in the first round once before, when she lost to Virginie Razzano of France in the French Open in 2012.

Williams is chasing the record of Grand Slam championship wins that Court, the Australian champion compiled between 1960 and 1977, her active years as a player. The now 78-year-old minister won 24 Grand Slam titles, the most of any tennis player, male or female.

Though Williams, now at 23 titles has come tantalizingly close to evening the record, she seems to be stalled at the number. The last Grand Slam tournament Williams won was the Australian Open in 2017, when it was later revealed that she was pregnant with her daughter, Olympia. Williams last won Wimbledon in 2016.

Players say conditions at Wimbledon have been challenging this year. The tournament is played on grass and players including Sasnovich said the courts have been slick.

Day Two: The Championships - Wimbledon 2021
Serena Williams of The United States is injured in her first-round match on June 29, 2021 at the Wimbledon championships. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“It was very slippery–I fell as well. When she did an angle, I couldn’t run, because it was so slippery,” Sasnovich told reporters after the match.

France’s Adrian Mannarino dropped out of his match today with Roger Federer in the fifth set, after also sustaining a leg injury on the Wimbledon courts, per Forbes.

Williams who, as reported by theGrio, will not play in the Tokyo Olympics this year, has struggled with injuries in the last few years. She exited the Australian Open in 2019 after hurting her ankle in a quarterfinal loss against Karolina Pliskova and withdrew from the French Open in 2018 and 2020, per the Times.

Williams did not appear for a post-game press conference. But her opponent did and wished her the best.

“Of course I’m so sad for Serena; she’s a great champion,” Sasnovich said. “It happens sometimes, but all the best to her, the best recovery.”

Williams took to her Instagram page to release a personal statement about the unfortunate injury and the outpour of support she’s received since. She wrote:

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg. My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on – and off – the court meant the world to me.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

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