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Serena Williams announced on Instagram today that she has withdrawn from the French Open with an Achilles injury:
“I was able to get it somewhat better but just looking long-term at this tournament — ‘will I be able to get through enough matches?’ — and so for me I don’t think I could and struggling to walk so that’s kind of a telltale sign that I should try to recover,” Williams said, via CNN.
Yesterday, Outkick’s Greg Couch wrote a column about how Williams did not look like herself in the tournament:
You hate to see a great athlete stick around too long and be there just for show. Serena is not there yet. She can still win more majors. But if she wants to do that, then she’s going to have to get an understanding of who Serena is. And by that, I mean 39-year-old Serena.
This is an uncomfortable moment in her career. She hasn’t won a major in nearly four years and all of her fans still think of her as the best player in the world, which she is not. Williams herself might be in denial. And opponents who are not near the top can still fold when playing a tennis god.
Any parent knows that at some point, your kid is locked into your mind at a certain age. So your 20-year-old, for example, still is that 5-year-old on the swingset in the park.
Athletes lock themselves into their heydays. Old boxers are notorious for that, sticking around way too long because they think they still are the boxer they once were. You’ll see what I mean if Mike Tyson actually comes back.
Serena is not 19-year-old Serena anymore, not 29-year-old Serena. She’s not even anywhere near what she was as 34-year-old Serena. So every major championship now turns into a celebration of Serena for the first week against the Kirstie Ahns of the world and then a disappointment in the end against the top players. Usually that comes with some excuse attached, whether a hard-to-believe injury or a mean umpire.
It’s starting to get sad watching Williams chase after Margaret Court’s record of 24 major championships. She has been stuck on 23 for so long.