Serena Williams’ coach casts doubt on her future after US Open withdrawal
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Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has expressed his sadness over the 39-year-old’s forced withdrawal from the US Open next week. Mouratoglou became Williams’ coach in 2012, and the pair have won 10 of her 23 Grand Slam titles together, but the coach is not sure of his trainee’s future.
Speaking to Tennis Majors, Mouratoglou conceded that he has no idea as to when Williams will return to action. Asked about how long she will be absent for, the Frenchman noted: “I don’t know; we didn’t talk about that. We just talked about the US Open, that was the last goal of the season. First she has to digest, then we can sit and talk. Today, I’m not certain of anything in one sense or another.”
Mouratoglou expressed his sadness over the decision to not play at Flushing Meadows, but explained that it was not necessarily unexpected given the seriousness of the torn hamstring injury Williams suffered at Wimbledon.
The 51-year-old said: “It’s obviously a disappointment but this time, it’s not like a door slammed shut. We were in a process to try to heal an injury. We knew we were late; we made everything possible. Day after day, we knew we had less chances.
“Ten days ago, the MRI showed that the injury was still present. She couldn’t move.
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“Where you are twenty days before a major event and you didn’t even run for six weeks and you can only play statically, you know it’s a bad start.”
Mouratoglous also said that Williams’ team had set out a timetable for her recovery in order to try and get fit in time for her home Grand Slam, but a minor setback made it impossible to meet that schedule: “After Wimbledon, the team had made a protocol that was meant to lead her to be able to play at the US Open.
“We knew that any problem would rule out the possibility. At some point we had a little step back. It cost two weeks. We pay for it now.
“If the US Open happened in three weeks instead of next week, it would have been possible. It’s not the case today.”
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In her withdrawal statement, Williams made clear that she was following the advice of her medical staff. She said: “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.
“New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world and one of my favourite places to play – I’ll miss seeing the fans but will be cheering on from afar.
“Thank you for your continued love and support. I’ll see you soon.”
Mouratoglou clarified just how concerned Williams’ doctors were at the potential consequences of playing through the pain – and how much the tennis star wanted to play.
“We took medical advice and the medical advice was clear; if you play, you take a big risk,” he said.
“Then we had to discuss a little as a team. Serena always feels like she’s giving up if she doesn’t play; it’s inside her. We had to reason her a little, but anyway, the medical advice had a big part. In that sense it was a team decision.”
Mouratoglou was asked whether, with Williams’ body perhaps not as resilient as it once was, it could be time for the Michigan-born star to think about retirement as she turns 40 in September.
He replied: “No one could ever imagine they would play competitive tennis at 40. You have a new deal in tennis, it’s that champions can play longer, over 35, thanks to their unprecedented professionalism.
“Nevertheless, it’s still a race against the clock. Moreover in tennis, a dramatically demanding sport.
“You have more and more injuries, the time needed to be fit again is longer. It reduces the competition periods, and so it makes things more and more complicated.”
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