Serena Williams' chances of ending the year on a high note evaporated unexpectedly when she withdrew Friday from the Sony Ericsson championships with a stomach muscle problem. The younger of the two world-beating sisters had been in tears during her oddly one-sided 5-7, 6-1, 6-0 defeat to Venus Williams during their round robin match Thursday - and it emerged that she may have suffered the injury then.
"I had zero pain last night," Serena said of her post-match experience. ""I felt like I didn't serve well, I had a lot of double faults. Looking back, I think maybe that's why I was doing it, because I didn't feel it at the time. I think I might have been overcompensating. I did feel pain last night,'' the U.S. Open champion said. ``I was still in pain just getting out of bed. I have had this before and so when I felt this it was like a red flag. I went to see how I felt in practice yesterday, and it was hard when I was hitting ground strokes. I didn't want to risk it."
Serena was challenged by a British journalist who suggested that sometimes in a major tournament such as this she should play through the pain for the sake of the event and for the sponsors. "I think what I should do is make you work out for 22 years, have a severe stomach strain and play for the sponsors," she chided. Later she explained: "I had this once in LA and played through it and I was out for six to eight weeks. So when I had these symptoms I thought I must start the new year well. I can't afford to be out for so long.
Williams declined to say whether she would play next year at Indian Wells, California, one of the Tour’s nine top tournaments. The Williams sisters haven’t played there since 2001, when the family was booed after Venus withdrew just before a semifinal match against Serena. “We’ll see. Who knows,” Serena said. “We’ve had a lot of discussions with a lot of people. I don’t want to get into that right now. I just want to keep focused on other things.”