French Open 2018: Serena Williams withdraws before facing Maria Sharapova citing pectoral injury

USATSI

Serena Williams pulled out of the French Open on Monday with a pectoral injury just before her Round of 16 match with Maria Sharapova. Williams, 36, was playing in her first major since winning the 2017 Australian Open. It was also her first Grand Slam event since having a baby in September.

To this point, Williams had defeated Kristyna Pliskova, Ashleigh Barty and Julia Goerges, looking dominant and losing just one set along the way. Though she looked great against Goerges, her decreased mobility throughout the tournament was noticeable  -- though her hits hadn't lost any power.

In the press conference announcing the injury, Williams said that the injury to her pectoral muscle was hampering her serves.

"I unfortunately been having some issues with my pec muscle," she said, via the Roland Garros Twitter account. "Right now I can't actually serve, so it's actually hard to play when I can't physically serve."   

Williams added that the looming match with Sharapova also made the withdrawal disappointing.

"It's difficult," she said, per Reem Abulleil. "I love playing Maria. It's a match I always get up for."

That's an understatement. Williams is 19-2 in her career against Sharapova. Their rivalry dates to 2004, and Williams won the most recent matchup at the 2016 Australian Open.

Williams added, "I can only take solace in the fact that I'm going to continue to get better," per Bonnie Ford of ESPN. Williams, who had never withdrawn from a major before, said that she plans on getting an MRI on Tuesday.

Williams wanted to return for the Australian Open, but when she wasn't in Grand Slam shape she worked extra hard to return for the French Open. Though she was playing excellent, it took a lot to get the point she's at now.

As for Sharapova, she moves on to the quarterfinals to face the winner of Garbine Muguruza and Lesia Tsurenko. This will be Sharapova's first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance since the 2016 Australian Open, and her furthest advancement since returning to the sport from a ban for testing positive for meldonium.

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