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Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Tennis: Serena unlikely to play Wimbledon warmup, says coach

Reuters , Friday 7 Jun 2019
FILE PHOTO: Serena Williams (USA) in action during her match against Sofia Kenin (USA) on day seven of the 2019 French Open at Stade Roland Garros Jun 1, 2019 Paris Reuters
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 Serena Williams is likely to go into Wimbledon without playing a warm-up event because she is still injured, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou has told Reuters.

After a third-round exit at the French Open, Williams said she felt so short in matches, she was considering seeking a wildcard at one of the grass-court events and 'see what happens'.

Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, and her older sister Venus, a five-time winner at the All England Club, usually prepare for the world's only grass-court Grand Slam event at home in Florida.

"I don't know yet, I don't think so, because first the goal is for her to be injury-free and pain-free and then we need to work hard, so if she can play, great (but) I don't know if she can play," Mouratoglou said in an interview at Roland Garros, when asked if Williams would play a warmup tournament.

The Wimbledon Championships start July 1.

Williams last played an event before Wimbledon in 2011, when she entered Eastbourne after an 11-month injury break for a foot injury, during which she also had surgery for a pulmonary embolism on her lung.

"She's a bit injured so we need to solve the problem, because there is a double problem," said Mouratoglou, who has guided the 37-year-old American to 10 Grand Slam titles since they started working together in 2012.

"The first problem is that she can't prepare the proper way because of the injury, and the second thing is that she is playing with the pain, so we have to solve that," the Frenchman added.

Having played just nine matches before Roland Garros, including just one on clay, Williams' quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title was ended by American teenager Sofia Kenin in straight sets at Roland Garros.

After her earliest defeat in Paris since 2014, Williams went to see Mouratoglou's long-time doctor for a left knee injury that has been bothering her since the Miami Open in March.

"We saw the doctor I have in Paris, I'm working with (him) for 20 years, I think we're going to be fine," Mouratoglou said.

Asked if it would have been better for the three-time French Open winner to have skipped the clay altogether, Mouratoglou said: "It's probably better not to play when you're not ready."

"This is one way to see it, but the other way to see it, the one I chose, Serena has been able in her career to figure out ways to win without being ready quite a number of times," he added.

"She won Roland Garros with 40 degrees fever. She won the Australian Open being completely unfit because she didn't have time to practise after injury. With Serena, there is no rule."

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