Wimbledon 2014: Serena Williams close to tears as she exits SW19 in astonishing scenes on Court One

The American was barely able to bounce the ball before she and her sister retired from their doubles match

The ever-controversial Williams sisters left Wimbledon for another year last night after some of the most astonishing scenes witnessed here this or any other year.

Serena Williams, who was clearly in no fit state to start their doubles match on Court One, recorded eight successive faults in her only service game, of which six barely reached the net and two were lobbed way beyond the baseline.

At one stage the umpire came down from his chair to ask if she felt able to continue and at the end of the game, which left the sisters – five times Wimbledon doubles champions – trailing 3-0 to Kristina Barrois of Germany and Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele, they retired. Serena had barely touched the ball in the two previous games and seemed to be having difficulty in even bouncing it.

Video: Serena Williams retires from match

She had appeared shaky in the warm-up and had lengthy treatment before the start of the match, having her blood pressure taken and looking close to tears. She clearly did not wish to let her sister down, but the outcome was farcical. Ironically, the younger sister had said after losing her singles match to Alizé Cornet on Saturday: “I suck right now at doubles. I told Venus the other day I don’t even want to play because I’m so bad right now.” As it turned out, that would have been a wiser decision.

Serena.jpgIn a statement later, Serena said she was “heartbroken”, adding: “I really wanted to compete, but this bug just got the best of me.”

Serena’s elimination from the singles, soon after Li Na’s, left Simona Halep the highest remaining seed, and her match yesterday was as easy as anyone has the right to expect in the fourth round of a Grand Slam. The women’s singles have had more bagels than a New York deli and Halep recorded another in her demolition of Zarina Diyas  6-3, 6-0 in only 57 minutes.

Diyas, the world No 72, had done well in putting out the 15th seed Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets and then Vera Zvonareva. The 20-year-old has a decent forehand  but lacked the all-round game to trouble Halep, who broke her early in both sets.


Lucie Safarova, seeded only 23rd, became the first into the last four, winning an equally one-sided encounter – that might have delivered another bagel – as the Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who had knocked out Agnieszka Radwanska, lost 6-3, 6-1.

Sabine Lisicki had Yaroslava Shvedova to thank for the gift of surrender courtesy of a dumped backhand into the net, sealing a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory. This was a match that conformed to the old paradigm: it doesn’t matter how you get there, only that you do. The relentless unloading of bazookas from the baseline is no advert for the game.

Indeed, this heavy-hitting almost cost Lisicki the match. Controversially, she called a medical time-out at break-point down in the third game. Her love affair with Wimbledon now rests in the healing hands of medical staff working to deliver her to the line in one piece against Halep. “We’ll see what the physios say. Hopefully, they will do some miracles,” Lisicki  said. “I hit a ball and it just went in my back.”