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 11th August.
Andreescu, 19, was up 3-1 with a break of serve when 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams found she couldn't continue, AFP has reported. When it was clear that Williams would retire, the young Canadian approached her chair, offering words of encouragement and a consolatory hug. An on-court microphone caught Williams' mention of back spasms, with the official cause of her retirement given as an upper back injury.
The 37-year-old Williams, whose competitive action this year has 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. "I'm sorry I couldn't do it today," she told the crowd, her voice cracking. "I tried, but I couldn't do it.” She added, "Bianca you're a great sportsperson, woman. Thanks to my team. It's been a tough year but we'll keep going."