Serena Williams speaks out on ‘heartbreaking’ Wimbledon exit

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Serena Williams reacts as she withdraws from her women's singles first round match against Belarus's Aliaksandra Sasnovich on the second day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2021.

Williams was left in tears (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Serena Williams says she was ‘heartbroken’ at having to withdraw from Wimbledon as a right leg injury ended her tournament in the first round.

Williams lasted just six games before having to throw in the towel and was grateful for the ‘warmth’ from the crowd, which she insists ‘meant the world’ to her.

In emotional scenes on Centre Court, Williams had returned from an early medical timeout in a desperate attempt to continue after a slight slip, with tears pouring down her face.

The tears continued to flow as the match was called to a halt – after a heavier tumble – and as she left the world’s most famous grass court arena, with it unclear if Wimbledon fans would ever see her again.

Williams left the site before completing her post-match media duties but released a statement to the tournament.

‘I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,’ said Williams.

Serena Williams of The United States reacts as she winces in pain in her Ladies' Singles First Round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus during Day Two of The Championships - Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2021 in London, England.

Williams fell down on court (Picture: Getty)

‘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.’

It was the second match on Centre Court that ended premuaturely on Tuesday.

Prior to Williams’s arrival, Roger Federer had seen his first-round tie end before the deciding set after his opponent Adrian Mannarino had taken a nasty tumble.

France's Adrian Mannarino reacts after slipping on the grass during play against Switzerland's Roger Federer during their men's singles first round match on the second day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2021.

Mannarino was forced out of his match with Federer (Picture: AFP via Getty)

As Federer and Andy Murray – both of whom had played their matches on Centre Court – had already pointed out, France’s Mannarino admitted that the grass had felt particularly slippy at this year’s Championships.

‘I think I just sprained my knee,’ Mannarino said in his post-match press conference. ‘A basic grass court injury that happened to me before in the past 10 years when I was playing qualies in Roehampton.

‘I felt the same sensation on court. I just slid down and it was really slippery. I heard a big crack and I knew straight away that I wouldn’t be able to do anything anymore.

‘I’m not used to playing on Wimbledon Centre Court. It’s tough for me to compare especially playing last week in Spain where the weather was really dry and the courts were not slippery at all.

‘I didn’t have much time to practise before the match and the court definitely looked slippery to me.

‘I was not feeling great. Every time I tried to push on my feet or change direction I was not comfortable with that.’

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