Lindsay Davenport believes six matches of singles and doubles for Serena Williams this fortnight at Roland Garros proved too much for the returning American, who will now face a tough race to be fit for Wimbledon.
Serena, who withdrew from her fourth round with Maria Sharapova on Monday with a pec muscle strain, had lost in the third round in doubles alongside her sister Venus on Sunday, a day after she impressively defeated German No. 11 seed Julia Goerges in the singles third round.
Having contested just four singles matches this season heading into Paris, Serena – who returned from maternity leave in March – surprised many with her strong form in her victories over Kristyna Pliskova, Ashleigh Barty, and Goerges en route to a highly-anticipated showdown with Sharapova.
Former world No. 1 Davenport feels playing both singles and doubles at a Slam, with little match play under her belt, is what led to Serena’s body giving away.
“I called every single one of her matches and the Goerges one I said ‘she is exactly where she needs to be, I hope she doesn’t play doubles’,” Davenport told Sport360 on Monday, ahead of her participation in the Legends Trophy at Roland Garros.
“Obviously it’s more challenging when it’s your sister and Venus, not being in singles, has been here for five or six days just playing doubles, but you also have to take into account how much tennis is put on a body compared to the two months, six months, eight months leading into a tournament, and all of a sudden she had six matches in six days. That’s a lot.
“And it just felt that the body was going to have a hard time holding up anyway. It was a shame it happened.
“If you look at pec injuries, the number one reason is overuse. And to all of a sudden go out there and have to serve every day, and also serve with stakes. On a day off you can kind of arm five, 10 serves if you want and get it over with. She obviously was playing under a lot of stress and tension in Grand Slam matches and it seemed to show.”
Serena, who is one Grand Slam title away from matching Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 majors won, will now race the clock in order to be ready for Wimbledon, which begins in four weeks’ time.
“I hope she gets better. I think Wimbledon – she doesn’t want to miss another major but that’s going to be tough. You have to get a pec better with rest so now Serena is going to have to spend more time away from the court and that’s not what she needs right now either,” said Davenport.
“We’ll have to see how her body holds up. Probably jumping into all those matches so soon was a lot for anybody, even though she’s almost a superhero and I truly believe that, it was just a little bit too much for her to overcome.”
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