Serena Williams pulls out of French Open before Maria Sharapova match

Serena Williams

GETTYSerena Williams will be back in Grand Slam action for the first time in more than a year

Serena Williams has pulled out of her fourth-round match at the French Open against Maria Sharapova because of a pectoral muscle injury that won't allow her to serve, she announced Monday, reports ESPN.

Williams told reporters that she was having problems with a pectoral muscle. "I didn't have anything negative to say about Maria", she said.

The match against Sharapova had extra intrigue because the two players had not faced each other since Sharapova served a 15-month doping ban. She is my priority and every day I need to be home with her.

Sharapova had lost her last 18 matches to the former world No. 1 but the latest installment at Roland Garros was highly anticipated.

News of her pullout comes after the editor of a tennis magazine was criticised for asking Williams if she was intimidated by her rival's appearance.

"I'm beyond disappointed. I gave up so much, from time with my daughter to time with my family".

"It's very hard because I love playing Maria".

The French Open was Williams' first major championship since returning from maternity leave.

"And I won't know that (her Wimbledon status) until I get those results".

Williams patiently replied, "I honestly don't have any thoughts about that". "I SO admire her/I've spent lifetime fighting racism/sexism/homophobia.Started campaign 2 name US Open Stad 4 Ashe/Lobbied long 2 get Serena 2 return to I. Wells/Called out police violence vs Blake/I'm so sorry".

Throughout the first week, she looked as if she was shaking off the rust, beating Goerges, Ashleigh Barty and Kristyna Pliskova.

Serena Williams has been ranked No 1 in singles contests eight separate times by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).

Of her withdrawal, Williams told reporters the decision was "extremely disappointing".

Williams had worked hard to get back in shape and, despite starting the tournament with a notional ranking of 451 and having played only four matches this year, she actually looked capable of going all the way.

With Serena ruling herself out of the tournament, Sharapova will advance to the quarter-final round where she will play the victor of the Muguruza-Tsurenko match.

"Quite frankly, she's probably a favourite in this match, for sure", said Williams through a smile.

On Saturday, Serena stoked her fans' anticipation for their alleged feud to come to a head when she slammed Sharapova's memoir Unstoppable, calling the book "100% hearsay".

The three-time champion chose to play doubles as well as singles because she knew she needed matches under her belt.

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