Serena, Venus Williams out of US Open; 1st time since 2003
Serena and Venus Williams added themselves to the list of big-name withdrawals from the U.S. Open on Wednesday, making this the first time since 2003 neither of the sisters will appear in the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.
Serena, who turns 40 next month, cited a torn right hamstring that has kept her out of competition since she was injured in the first set of her first-round match at Wimbledon in late June.
Venus, who is 41, said she has a leg injury.
They announced their decisions via social media posts about 10 hours apart.
“Not the best news from Serena and I today. I, too, am unable to play the U.S. Open. It’s super super super disappointing,” Venus said. “Having some issues with my leg all this summer and just couldn’t work through it.”
The Americans join Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in sitting out the competition in Flushing Meadows, where play begins next Monday, raising questions about what the future of tennis might look like without them. The draw for the tournament is Thursday.
This will be the first major tournament since the 1997 Australian Open without any of the four in the singles brackets. Venus made her Grand Slam debut at the 1997 French Open; Serena arrived the next year; Federer showed up in 1999; Nadal in 2003.
Serena has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, a record in the professional era. Only one player in tennis history owns more, Margaret Court with 24. Venus has won seven, including at the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001.
Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic share the men’s record of 20.
“After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring,” Serena wrote in her post Wednesday.
Her note ended with: “I’ll see you soon.”
Serena’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, also put up a post on social media, saying, “we’ve done everything we could” and adding: “It is heartbreaking, but this is the only possible decision.”
She has won six singles championships at the U.S. Open, most recently in 2014. In her five appearances at the hard-court tournament in New York since then, she has made it to the final twice — losing to Naomi Osaka in 2018 and Bianca Andreescu in 2019 — and the semifinals three other times, including last year.
Her best-in-the-game serve and powerful groundstrokes have allowed Serena to remain among the title contenders at the biggest tournaments, especially on hard courts and grass.
This season, she was a semifinalist at the Australian Open in February, before losing to eventual champion Osaka there. At the French Open, played on red clay, Serena lost in the fourth round to Elena Rybakina.
At Wimbledon, Serena was serving while leading 3-1 in her opening match when her left shoe seemed to lose its traction while she was hitting a forehand and her right leg flexed awkwardly.
She tried to continue but eventually needed to stop playing, only the second mid-match retirement of her Grand Slam career and first since 1998.
The Great Williams sisters
The Williams sisters are two professional American tennis players: Venus Williams (b. 1980), a seven-time Grand Slam title winner (singles), and Serena Williams (b. 1981), twenty-three-time Grand Slam title winner (singles), both of whom were coached from an early age by their parents Richard Williams and Oracene Price. There is a noted professional rivalry between them— between the 2001 US Open and the 2017 Australian Open tournaments, they met in nine Grand Slam singles finals. They became the first two players, female or male, to play in four consecutive Grand Slam singles finals from the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open; Serena famously won all four to complete the first of two “Serena Slams”. Between 2000 and 2016, a 17-year span, they collectively won 12 Wimbledon singles titles (Venus won five, and Serena won seven). By winning the 2001 Australian Open women’s doubles title, they became the fifth pair to complete the Career Doubles Grand Slam and the only pair to complete the Career Doubles Golden Slam. At the time, Venus and Serena were only 20 and 19 years old, respectively. Since then, they have gone on to add another two Olympic gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics. Nearly a decade later, the duo would go on to win four consecutive Grand Slam doubles titles from 2009 Wimbledon through 2010 Roland Garros, which would catapult them to co-No. 1 doubles players on 7 June 2010. Two weeks later, on 21 June 2010, Serena would hold the No. 1 singles ranking, and Venus would be right behind her at No. 2 in singles. Their most recent Grand Slam doubles titles came at the 2012 Wimbledon and 2016 Wimbledon events. They remain very close, often watching each other’s matches in support, even after one of them has been knocked out of a tournament.
Both sisters have been ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association at the world No. 1 position in both singles and doubles. In 2002, after the French Open, Venus Williams and Serena Williams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, marking the first time in history that sisters occupied the top 2 singles spots in the world rankings. During the 2010 French Open, they became the co-world No. 1 players in women’s doubles. On 21 June 2010, Serena and Venus again held the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings spots in singles, respectively, some eight years after first accomplishing this feat. At the time, Serena was three months shy of her 29th birthday and Venus had just celebrated her 30th birthday.
Both players have won four gold medals at the Summer Olympics, one each in singles and three in doubles—all won together—the most of any tennis players. Venus has also won a silver in mixed doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympics. As a duo, they have also completed the Career Golden Slam in doubles, twice. Between the two of them, they have completed the Boxed Set, winning all four grand slams in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. They won all of the mixed doubles titles in 1998 to go along with their titles in singles and women’s doubles.