Andy Murray has joined a chorus of players fearing the surface of Wimbledon’s center court was too slippery after Serena Williams was forced to retire in her first round match.
Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion, appeared to twist her ankle in the fifth game of her match against Belarusian world No.100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich and was forced to give up a match later after her body sank. is slumped as she tried to turn a serve.
It was the second straight retirement to tennis’s most famous court after Frenchman Adrian Mannarino twisted his knee while standing two sets to one against Roger Federer.
React on social networks, Murray said: “Brutal for Serena Williams but Center Court is extremely slippery there. It’s not easy to move there.
Federer, meanwhile, was at a press conference when he learned Williams had been forced to retire. “Oh, my God, I can’t believe it,” he said. “It’s obviously terrible that these are back-to-back games and it hits Serena too. You have to move very, very carefully there. If you push too hard at a bad time, you go down.
Speaking of Mannarino’s injury, Federer said: “It’s awful, it shows that a shot can change the outcome of a game, a season or a career. He was the best player, so I was a bit lucky.
Federer said he believes games under one roof have been a factor. “I feel like it’s drier during the day. With the wind and all that, it removes moisture from the grass.
Williams, seeded sixth, had arrived on the pitch with her hamstrings tied but appeared to have little difficulty until she injured herself swinging backwards over the baseline to hit a forehand .
After looking intently at the grass, the seven-time Wimbledon champion went for treatment and came back with a heavy limp. Tears filled her eyes as she thanked the crowd by touching her heart. But moments later, her body sagged in pain as she prepared to receive feedback and she must have limped.
“I was heartbroken having to retire after injuring my right leg,” said Williams. “My love and gratitude goes to the fans and the team who make being on center court so meaningful. Feeling the overwhelming warmth and support of the crowd as I walked on – and off – the court meant the world to me. “
Many players had warned of slippery ground on the opening day of the tournament, including Novak Djokovic. But conditions looked even worse on day two, especially on center court.
Mannarino, the world No.41, was the first to suffer after putting Federer in all sorts of trouble until he fell heavily in the fourth set. “I just slipped because it was really slippery,” said the Frenchman afterwards. “I heard a big crackle and I knew immediately that I couldn’t do anything more.
“I’m not used to playing on Wimbledon center court. I didn’t have a lot of time to train before the game and the pitch definitely felt slippery. I did not feel well. Anytime I tried to push off my feet or change direction, I wasn’t comfortable with it.
Young American Coco Gauff, who beat Britain’s Fran Jones, also said she had “slipped and slipped over there on the pitch”. She was watching in the gym when Williams was injured but had to turn away.
“It wasn’t easy to watch,” she said. “I was in the gym to stretch. I turned away because this stuff makes me really emotional. I am a huge fan of Serena, although I am a competitor now. This is the reason why I started to play tennis. It’s hard to see a player get injured, but especially her.