Indian Wells: Serena withdraws with knee injury

Romania’s Halep gets free pass to the final, will play against Jankovic

Afp March 21, 2015
CROWD SUPPORT: Serena said it was heart-warming to hear the cheers Friday night when she told the crowd of her decision. PHOTO: AFP

INDIAN WELLS: Serena Williams pulled out of her Indian Wells semi-final on Friday, 14 years after her sister Venus withdrew at the same stage to spark a fan uproar that led to a Williams’ boycott of the event.

Serena withdrew moments before her scheduled semi-final match on Friday night with a right knee injury, ending her hopes for a storybook finish after she made the decision several months ago to finally return to the joint WTA and ATP tournament.

Ironically, Venus also pulled out of her semi-final match in 2001 with a knee injury.

Serena strode out onto the court to deliver the news in person on Friday to the Tennis Garden fans, who had just watched Jelena Jankovic beat Sabine Lisicki in the first women's semi-final.

"A couple of days ago at my practice I injured my knee," Serena told the crowd. "Today it was a struggle to walk."

Unlike 14 years ago when she was heckled and booed in the final against Kim Clijsters, the crowd stood and applauded Serena as she spoke. There were one or two scattered boos, but they were drowned out by the loud cheering.

Asked why she couldn't play through the pain, Serena said she didn't want to risk a long-term injury.

"When you get to a level of pain where you are at nine or a 10 or even an eight, you don't want to push it because you can actually make it a lot worse," she said.

The injury also means Serena could miss next week's hardcourt tournament in Miami. But the world number one said she would wait and see how it feels early next week. "If I am still in pain obviously I am not going to play, but I am still hopeful," she said.

Serena's withdrawal means that third seed Simona Halep advanced to Sunday's final. She'll face Jankovic, who rallied to beat Lisicki 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

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