Poor Sara Errani. As if the weight of history, let alone the weight of her opponent’s shot, was not enough of a burden to bear, the 27-year-old Italian suffered an injury yesterday that ended any chance she had of denying Serena Williams her third Italian Open title.
Errani, who lost 6-3, 6-0 after hurting her left thigh in the first set, was attempting to become the first home player to win the tournament since Raffaella Reggi in 1985.
Despite a slow start she was still in contention at 3-4 down in the first set. However, she then struggled through a game and had to leave the court for treatment.
The world No 11 returned with her thigh strapped and her movement badly impaired. After losing the first set in 50 minutes – four minutes longer than the whole match when she lost to Williams in last year’s French Open semi-finals – Errani faded fast. Williams needed only 21 more minutes to close out her seventh victory in seven meetings between the pair.
Errani was in tears at the end and during the presentation ceremony, after which Williams endeared herself to the Rome public by telling them in Italian: “I’m sorry for Sara because she didn’t deserve it to end like this.”
Williams had not been enjoying the best of clay-court seasons – she pulled out of the Madrid tournament 10 days ago with a thigh injury – but after winning the 60th title of her career she will go to next week’s French Open the firm favourite.
The world No 1 said that because of her injury she had delayed making a decision to play in Rome until the last minute. “I’m still not 100 per cent now,” she said.