Tennis fans were disappointed this weekend when Serena Williams backed out of the Italian Open before her semifinal match. Clay has perennially been her worst surface. Williams said backing out was the best way to prevent any further injuries—just before the summer stretch of the French Open, Wimbledone and the U.S. Open—after she had been complaining about pains in her lower back.
“I [felt] a little bit of ache and pain and don’t want to go out there and start compensating and eventually hurt something else,” Serena told reporters.
Serena’s withdrawal means that Li Na, the reigning French Open champion, will automatically advance to the finals in Rome.
According to Williams this isn’t the first time her back has been a problem since she began playing in the Italian Open. Earlier this week she was reported saying, “It was feeling a little stiff and I don’t think this is the right moment to force [it]. I just want to relax and get ready for the next few months.” The decision has put an end to Serena’s streak of 17 consecutive victories. According to ESPN, several other players are nursing injuries as well, but there is no word out yet on whether there will be more withdrawals from the Italian Open.
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“Everyone. I’m sooooo sad and sorry I had to pull out of what has become my favorite tournament in Rome,” Serena tweeted. “Everyone has become so nice here in Rome and the tournament director is amazing. I will be here next year for sure.”
Li Na will go on to compete with Maria Sharapova, the defending champion of the Rome Final, or Angelique Kerber of Germany.