The Wimbledon tennis tournament is now the subject of immense backlash after superstar Serena Williams was forced to retire after suffering an injury minutes into the first set of her match due to the conditions of the court.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion had just started her first round match on Tuesday (June 29th) against Aliksandra Sasnovich of Belarus when she slipped on the Centre Court grass twice. This caused her such pain that she immediately went to the net after a medical timeout and retired from the match, wiping away tears. It was a terrible setback, as she was favored to win her eighth title at the All England Club amid speculation that it could be one of her last tournaments as an active player.
In a post on Instagram, she expressed her appreciation for the crowd that was present and 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.”
The injury Serena Williams sustained wasn’t the first to occur during that day. In an earlier match against Roger Federer on the same court, French player Adrian Mannarino slipped in the exact spot Williams slipped and was injured in. He was forced to retire soon after. Players like Britain’s own Andy Murray railed against the organizers for the conditions on social media.
In response, the All England Club issued a statement: “Our long-serving Grounds team have experienced nearly every combination of weather conditions possible.” These conditions have plagued Wimbledon before, with one day in 2013 being dubbed “Wacky Wednesday” after many slipped on the same court. “We will continue to monitor these readings and adjust our care plan for the grass appropriately.”, the organizers said.