Serena Williams was forced to retire from the Rogers Cup final during the first set because of back spasms on Sunday in Toronto, making 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu the first Canadian winner of the tournament in 50 years.
Williams, 37, was behind 3-1 just 13 minutes into the opening set when she retired. She was in tears sitting in her chair on the sideline before Andreescu walked over, said she was sorry and asked if she was OK. The two spoke for a few moments about injuries, then Williams stood and they hugged.
During the trophy presentation, Andreescu said, “Serena, I know how it is to pull out of tournaments and be injured — it’s not easy. This is not the way I expected to win. I watched you play so many times. You are truly a champion on and off the court.”
This was Williams’ second final of the year. She lost to Romania’s Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final last month.
The four-time Olympic champion has battled a number of injuries this season and pulled out of the Italian Open with a knee injury in May. It was the third straight tournament from which she withdrew and the second because of knee problems. She also retired during a third-round match against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza because of illness in Indian Wells, California.
The Rogers Cup, a WTA Premier 5 tournament, was the last major tuneup before the US Open main draw begins on Aug. 26. Williams, who is ranked No. 10 in the world, is still seeking not only her first title as a mother but her record-tying 24th Grand Slam title.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.