Serena faces greatest challenge in injury fightback at 40

New York: Serena Williams won’t be chasing a 24th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open, but with her 40th birthday only a month away, she will be starting perhaps her greatest challenge in closing out her career on her own terms.

Williams revealed Wednesday she would miss the New York hardcourt showdown with a torn right hamstring suffered in a first-round match last month at Wimbledon.

“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,” Williams posted on Instagram.

Williams, whose 23 Grand Slam singles crowns are one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record, will be battling back from injury at an age when most players have retired.

The American star is already the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles crown, taking the 2018 Australian Open title at age 35 while pregnant before taking a year off to give birth to daughter Olympia.

She suffered a pulmonary embolism after delivery and was bed-ridden for six weeks but battled back to world-class form, reaching the 2018 and 2019 finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, and until now hadn’t missed a Grand Slam start since her motherhood hiatus.

Williams failed to take a set in any of the four trophy matches, the last in New York just shy of her 38th birthday making her the oldest female finalist in Grand Slam singles history.

Ken Rosewall was 37 when he became the oldest Grand Slam singles winner and 39 when he reached the 1974 US Open final. If Serena should reach another Slam singles final, she would become the oldest man or woman to do so.

“I feel like people can play longer,” Williams said at Wimbledon. “Technology has played a huge role in that — the way we view the game, the way we recover, the way our shoes are made, the way the equipment is made. – AFP