Updated with Williams’s condition
WIMBLEDON, England — Five-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams was forced to withdraw from her second-round doubles match with her sister Tuesday, unable to continue after being overcome by a viral illness.
After returning to her chair following warmups for the doubles match on Court No. 1 with sister Venus, Serena, 32, put her head in her hands and started weeping.
Doctors were called to attend her as she sat, wiping away tears, and spoke to them about her condition out of range of microphones.
An odd site on Court 1 as Serena Williams gets medical treatment on court prior to starting her doubles match. pic.twitter.com/u2vsHeY1rJ
— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) July 1, 2014
After a lengthy consultation, Serena and Venus took the court to begin the match against Germany’s Kristina Barrois and Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland.
But they fell behind 0-2. And when Serena stepped to the baseline to serve, it appeared that the most feared server in women’s tennis couldn’t properly see the court or command her right arm to do what she wanted. In a double-fault-strewn game, she was broken at love.
The sisters walked to their chairs on the changeover holding hands, both with looks of concern Almost immediately they informed tournament officials they were withdrawing. Wimbledon doctors are now saying that “a viral illness” has affected Serena, the BBC’s Sue Barker reports.
“I am heartbroken I’m not able to continue in the tournament,” Williams said in a statement. “I thought I could rally this morning because I really wanted to compete, but this bug just got the best of me.”
Serena Williams reclaimed the world No. 1 ranking last year after a stretch of injury and illness that included emergency treatment for a pulmonary embolism in early 2011.
She had a brilliant season in 2013, winning 11 tournaments, including two of the sport’s four majors to raise her total Grand Slam singles titles to 17.
But she has failed to reach the quarterfinals of the season’s three majors to date, falling to 25th ranked Alize Cornet in Wimbledon’s third round on Saturday.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 1, 2014
The start of the match was delayed 13 minutes and ESPN’s Pam Shriver noted: “It’s almost like she has taken something that makes her feel dizzy, disoriented, and she cannot reach up and strike the ball.”
Serena Williams leaves Wimbledon grounds, looking wan & unwell, accompanied by Venus & coach P Mouratoglou pic.twitter.com/qq7lS2w32K
— Liz Clarke (@lizclarketweet) July 1, 2014
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that this was an opening-round doubles match.