Serena Williams’ first US Open tune-up ended in dramatic fashion as the tearful American was forced to retire with a back injury while trailing Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu 3-1 in the Rogers Cup final on Sunday.
Williams, who hopes to chase a record-equalling 24th career Grand Slam title at the US Open, seemed fine on court but suddenly sat crying in her chair before deciding to retire 19 minutes into the match.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do it today. I tried but I just couldn’t do it,” an emotional Williams, who struggled to get the words out, told the crowd. “It’s been a tough year but we’ll keep going.”
The 37-year-old Williams, whose competitive action this year hs been severely limited because of knee issues, declared herself pain-free ahead of the tournament, which she was hoping to use as a springboard for the rest of her hardcourt swing. But the six-times US Open champion, still without a title since returning from maternity leave in 2018, now faces her latest setback with the year’s final Grand Slam just two weeks away.