Standing in the media center at Hard Rock Stadium on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, perfect for tennis at the Miami Open. An announcement is made over the loudspeaker, “attention media, Serena Williams has withdrawn from the tournament, due to injury.”
My thought was this is a prank.
Serena appeared to be in good form on Friday when she took out Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in three sets. But the Eight-time Miami Open champion has been forced to withdraw from the 2019 tournament due to a left knee injury.
With the withdrawal, the tournament’s No. 18 seed Qiang Wang of China advances to the fourth round.
“I am disappointed to withdraw from the Miami Open due to a left knee injury,” said Williams. “It was an amazing experience to play at the Hard Rock Stadium this year and would like to thank the Miami Open for putting on an amazing event. I hope to be back next year to play at this one-of-a-kind tournament in front of the incredible fans here in Miami.”
The beat goes on as the news means that Williams title drought continues. The 37-year-old has still not won a title since she returned from maternity leave last spring. She has played ten events and reached the final of two majors, compiling a post-motherhood record of 24-8.
Williams has pulled out of two tournaments in the last two seasons—once at Roland Garros, where she was to face Maria Sharapova in the round of 16, and now here in Miami.
In August of 2009, Williams and her sister Venus became minority owners of the Miami Dolphins after purchasing a small stake in the team. They are the first Black women to hold any amount of ownership in an NFL franchise.
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross partnered to keep the Miami Open in Miami and worked together to build a permanent world-class tennis facility that has provided an elevated fan experience while incorporating a unique Miami look and feel. The improved amenities have allowed the tournament to host a true lifestyle and entertainment event featuring the best in tennis, art, food, and music.
The fact that Williams is out after her opening match takes away from the storylines the new venue could have created for the fan experience. Instead, she’ll be making a premature exit from her second straight event. A few weeks ago, Williams withdrew from Indian Wells in the middle of a match due to an unspecified illness. Williams hasn’t completed an event since reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January.
The relationship between tennis and Serena is far from over; however, time is ticking on it.