A distraught Serena Williams has cried while pulling out of the final of a Canadian WTA tournament, handing 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu her second title.
Williams succumbed to a back injury after just four games of the final of the Rogers Cup.
The American was hampered in her range of motion as she fell behind 3-1 and broke down in tears as she spoke to the trainer and then the match referee as she sat in her chair.
When news of Williams’s forfeit reached Andreescu, she leapt from her chair to give her opponent a hug and her condolences, and the crowd rose to its feet to cheer.
“F—. Dude, don’t even get me started,” the Canadian said, admitting she teared up when she saw her idol in pain.
I’ve watched you your whole career. You’re a f—ing beast, but injuries – I’ve been through so many already and you know how they are.”
Andreescu said despite the manner in which it happened, winning the Rogers Cup in Toronto, which borders her hometown of Mississauga, made it “10 times more special” than winning her first WTA title at Indian Wells in California earlier this year.
The good news for tennis lovers came after the match, when Williams said she was confident the back issues would go away in time for her to compete at the US Open at the end of the month.
Williams said she had suffered from similar back spasms before and they usually went away within a couple of days.
“It started yesterday in my match and it just got worse,” she said.
“My whole back completely spasmed to a point where I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t really move. I was just trying to figure out how to play a match where you have no rotation.
“I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to continue.”
Williams has had an uncharacteristically lean run in 2019, with a 19-7 win-loss record and without a title to her name.
She reached the final of Wimbledon in July, losing to Simona Halep, but only reached the third round of May’s French Open and fell in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open to start the year.