Hopes of avoiding the injuries that plagued Williams since 2010 were dashed Wednesday when a sprained left ankle forced the U.S. tennis star to withdraw from the Australian tournament after defeating Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia, 6-2, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals.
“I'm going to take a couple of days off — not too many — and see how I feel,” Williams said in a statement later in the day. “I'm still hopeful of playing the Australian Open.”
Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, who would have faced Williams in the quarterfinals, advances directly to the semifinals.
Williams, who has not played since the U.S. Open final in September due to injuries, was serving for the match with a 6-2, 5-3 lead when she twisted her ankle and fell to the ground. After lying near baseline for several minutes while getting medical attention, Williams was helped to a chair at courtside and had her ankle re-taped.
She limped through the rest of the match, at times wincing in pain, and later hobbled into a post-match news conference, where she told reporters she anticipated her heavily wrapped ankle would be OK. But in her statement later in the day, the 13-time Grand Slam champion said that tests “confirmed that I have a left ankle sprain (and) that I probably shouldn't play on.”
Williams missed about a year of tennis after Wimbledon in 2010 due to two operations on her foot and blood clots in her lungs. She returned to the court last summer and won a pair of tournaments before finishing second in the U.S. Open.
The Australian Open starts Jan. 16 in Melbourne.
— Chuck Schilken
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Serena Williams collapses after twisting her left ankle in Brisbane, Australia, Wednesday. Credit: Tertius Pickard / Associated Press