Never one to retire without putting up a fight, Williams tried to play through the injury but the pain was evident, etched into her facial expressions and each grimace that seemed to follow every shot. Williams wiped away tears before preparing to serve at 3-3 after Sasnovich had levelled, only to then sink to the grass sobbing, before being helped off the court.
The scenes of a visibly distressed Williams, with tears streaming from her eyes as she fought on, was tough to watch. Williams had trained hard to return to the court after taking a three month break after the Australian Open. Fans were quick to express their well wishes for the star, while fellow tennis great Andy Murray posted to Twitter: “Brutal for Serena William but centre court is extremely slippy out there. Not easy to move out there.”
Williams had never gone out in the first round at Wimbledon in her previous 19 visits and while there’s no knowing when she will be back, we can only hope this isn’t the last we see of the tennis star. Following the match, Williams posted to her social media a message to her fans. “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,” she wrote.
“Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on - and off - the court meant the world to me.”