“The Reason Why I Started to Play Tennis”: Coco Gauff Pays Tribute to Serena Williams After Wimbledon Retirement

Published 06/30/2021, 8:30 AM EDT
Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – June 29, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts after sustaining an injury before retiring from her first round match against Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich REUTERS/Peter Nicholls


American teen tennis sensation Coco Gauff has voiced empathy for Serena Williams after the veteran limped off the Centre Court in tears at the end of what turned out to be an anti-climactic campaign at the Wimbledon Championships on Tuesday.

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At 3-3 in the first set of her opening-round fixture against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, Serena took a nasty tumble on a slippery surface and hurt her ankle.

Though she was up on her feet to rousing chants from the crowd and finished the game on her opponent’s serve, she experienced sharp pain in her injured ankle while delivering a serve and fell on her knees, realizing that her campaign had come to an end.

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The 39-year-old seemed to be bothered by the soggy surface and was up a break in the opening set before she took a medical timeout.

Though she returned to the court shortly after and was moving well into position for her bludgeoning forehands, the veteran shrieked in pain while winding herself for a serve and slumped to the ground clutching at her ankle.

Serena Williams forfeited her Round 1 match after taking a tumble

As the chair umpire came rushing down to enquire, a tearful Serena, who was already hobbling by then, said she wouldn’t be able to continue and asked for the match to be awarded to her opponent.

Taking to Twitter after wrapping up a facile first-round win over Briton Francesca Jones on Tuesday, Gauff wrote that she couldn’t bear to watch as her idol grimaced in pain and had to be helped off the court amid a standing ovation from the court.

The 17-year-old added that though she is a competitor, it was hard for her to watch Serena go through all that pain.

Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – June 29, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts after sustaining an injury during her first round match against Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Coco Gauff said though she is a rival now, she could feel for Serena

“With Serena, I mean, it was hard for me to watch that. I’m a big fan of hers, even though I am a competitor now,” Gauff wrote.

She added that though it’s tough to watch any athlete get injured, it was especially so seeing Serena as she grew up watching and idolizing her.

Watch This Story: Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray: First Strike at Wimbledon Championship 2021

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“She’s the reason why I started to play tennis. It’s hard to watch any player get injured, but especially her (crying emoji),” the young American wrote.

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WATCH: Serena Williams Breaks down After Leg Injury Forced her to Retire From Wimbledon Championships 2021

about 1 month ago

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With Serena now gone, the onus will be on Gauff to make the Stars and Stripes flutter proudly in the women’s draw at All England.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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