Wimbledon blew up after just 20 minutes on court for Serena Williams as the sixth seed rolled her left ankle and had to quit her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Tuesday.
The seven-time champion had never lost this early at the event in 19 previous appearances.
Williams was unable to carry on after treatment off-court, handing a 3-3 retirement win to the No. 100 from Belarus who played a fourth round here in 2018 and once stood 30th in the rankings.
Williams served with tears in her eyes in the final game before losing it, walking to the chair and retiring.
Sasnovich was as stunned as the crowd with Williams losing another chance to try and break the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.which has eluded her since winning No. 23 in January, 2017 in Melbourne.
The Williams slip on the fresh grass with the court roof closed came at roughly the same spot where Adrian Mannarino went down and twisted his knee, eventually retiring against Roger Federer less than an hour earlier.
Sasnovich rose to the occasion after reaching the second round: “It was such a nice atmosphere,” she said. “It was my first time to play on the central court.
“I’m so sad for Serena, she’s a great champion. But this can happen in tennis. I wish her the best recovery.
“Now I want to stay for as long as possible (in the tournament). I will do my best for sure.”
Williams had reached the All EngLand Club final in her last four appearances (two finals, two titles).
The 39-year-old had been bidding for her 99th singles win at Wimbledon and was already carrying a heavy taping on her right thigh.
Main photo:- Serena Williams in tears as ankle injury forces her to quit. ©AELTC / Jed Leicester