Wednesday, 30 September 2020 20:03


Photo Credit:Getty Images.

Three-time champion Serena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open because of an Achilles injury.

The 39-year-old had been scheduled to play her second-round match against Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova on Wednesday.

The American has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and was aiming to equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24.

"I think I need four to six weeks of sitting and doing nothing," Williams told a news conference.

"I have been struggling to walk so that's a telltale sign that I should try to recover.

"Achilles is an injury you don't want to play with - I think it was one of the worst, don't want to get to that point, I want it to get better."

Williams picked up the Achilles problem during her US Open semi-final defeat by Victoria Azarenka earlier this month,

On Monday, she beat fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 in the first round at Roland Garros, but said she was struggling physically.

"In the second set I felt I needed to walk with a limp," Williams added. "I had to focus on walking straight so I wasn't limping. I tried and always give 100%, I take solace in that.

"I'm not sure I will play another tournament this year. It is not an acute injury, it is a nagging injury. I ran into bad timing and bad luck really."

Williams won the French Open in 2002, 2013 and 2015 and is currently ranked ninth in the world.

Meanwhile tenth seed Victoria Azarenka suffered a shock straight-set defeat by world number 161 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the French Open second round.

The Belarusian, 31, reached the US Open final earlier this month but struggled on the clay against Schmiedlova, who won 6-2 6-2.

The Slovak fell in the second set and the trainer was needed to treat her knee, but it did not halt her progress.

Top seed Simona Halep and third seed Elina Svitolina both won their matches.

Halep, who won her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 Roland Garros, beat fellow Romanian Irina Camelia Begu in a 6-3 6-4 success.

Elsewhere Rafael Nadal eased into round three of the French Open by thrashing American Mackenzie McDonald.

The Spanish second seed, 34, dropped only four games in a 6-1 6-0 6-3 win.

Nineteen-time Grand Slam winner Nadal has only lost two French Open matches since 2005 and is aiming to lift the trophy for the fourth year in a row.

Former champion Stan Wawrinka beat Germany’s Dominik Koepfer to move into the third round of the French Open.

Wawrinka, 35, who defeated Britain’s Andy Murray in the first round on Sunday, secured a 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-1 victory over the world number 61.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem also advanced as he beat American Jack Sock 6-1 6-3 7-6 (8-6).

Argentine 14th seed Diego Schwartzman was a 6-1 7-5 6-0 winner against Italy's Lorenzo Giustino.