Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou says it would have been a “big risk” for her to play the US Open, and is unsure what the future holds for the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
She hasn’t played since suffering the injury at Wimbledon, when she had to retire in the first round, and Mouratoglou has revealed that a setback in her recovery proved costly.
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“After Wimbledon the team had made a protocol that was meant to lead her to be able to play at the US Open,” he told Tennis Majors.
“Every week, some progress was due to happen in what she was able to do. We knew that any problem would rule out the possibility. At some point we had a little step back. It cost two weeks. We pay for it now. If the US Open happened in three weeks instead of next week, it would have been possible. It’s not the case today.
“It’s obviously a disappointment but this time, it’s not like a door slammed shut. We were in a process to try to heal an injury. We knew we were late; we made everything possible.
“Day after day, we knew we had less chances. Ten days ago, the MRI showed that the injury (a torn hamstring) was still present. She couldn’t move. Where you are 20 days before a major event and you didn’t even run for six weeks and you can only play statically, you know it’s a bad start.”
The news means Williams’ wait to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles continues.
She last won a Grand Slam title in January 2017 at the Australian Open when she beat her sister, Venus Williams, in the final.
Serena Williams, who turns 40 on September 26, said “see you soon” in her statement on Instagram, but Mouratoglou does not know if that will be this year or 2022.
“I don’t know; we didn’t talk about that. We just talked about the US Open, that was the last goal of the season. First she has to digest, then we can sit and talk. Today, I’m not certain of anything in one sense or another.
“We took medical advice and the medical advice was clear; if you play, you take a big risk. Then we had to discuss a little as a team. Serena always feels like she’s giving up if she doesn’t play; it’s inside her. We had to reason her a little, but anyway, the medical advice had a big part. In that sense it was a team decision.”
The decision means it will be the first time since 1997 the US Open or any other major tournament will be played without Williams, Nadal or Federer.
But Mouratoglou does not think that turning 40 will definitely mark the end of the road for Williams or Federer.
“No one could ever imagine they would play competitive tennis at 40,” he said.
“You have a new deal in tennis, it’s that champions can play longer, over 35, thanks to their unprecedented professionalism. Nevertheless, it’s still a race against the clock. Moreover in tennis, a dramatically demanding sport. You have more and more injuries, the time needed to be fit again is longer. It reduces the competition periods, and so it makes things more and more complicated.”
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This latest injury makes it more unlikely that Williams, who gave birth to daughter Alexis in 2017, will win another major.
Martina Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, thinks she should be “commended” for continuing to try.
“She’s still Serena. I don’t think winning 24 makes her any greater. The fact she’s trying is to be commended. The people saying she shouldn’t have tried because she’s just hurting her legacy, they are full of it. My goodness. The only people who never fail are the ones that never try,” she told the New York Times.
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Source: Euro Sports