May 20, 2022

Serena Williams of the United States reacts when she winces in pain in her first round match in women’s singles against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus on the second day of the championships – Wimbledon 2021

Jed Leicester | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

Serena Williams’ application for a record-breaking 24th Grand Slam singles title ended in tears at Wimbledon when an ankle injury forced her out of her first-round match with Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

The 39-year-old, who has seven Wimbledon singles titles on her glittering résumé, took a 3-1 lead against her Belarusian opponent when she twisted her left ankle badly.

When world number 100 Sasnovich fell straight back, Williams – her right thigh was already heavily buckled – had to leave the seat for a medical break and while the American tried to compete on the way back to center court, tears broke out see as she could barely move.

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Sasnovich leveled the game 3-3, but another slip by Williams left her on the ground and amid the gasp of the crowd, the chair umpire helped her to her feet and her resignation was confirmed.

Williams’ injury-related exit followed that of Adrian Mannarino, who was pushed off the pitch after suffering a knee injury during his game against Roger Federer.

Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles since the 2017 Australian Open – but her last two visits to Wimbledon have played in the final.

After losing to Simona Halep in 2019 and Angelique Kerber in 2018, sixth seed Williams came out with an ambition to finally offset Margaret Court’s superiority, but she was upset and posted a statement on her Instagram feed.

“I had to retire heartbroken today after injuring my right leg,” said Williams.

“My love and gratitude go to the fans and the team who make it so important to be on Center Court. To feel the extraordinary warmth and support of the audience when I walked in and out again meant the world to me . “