Shattered Serena in a world of pain
FROM feud to fizzer, the much-touted French Open showdown between bitter foes Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova is a non-event.
Williams, who holds a 19-2 on-court record against Sharapova (and a similar differential in off-court popularity), withdrew only minutes before the match with a pectoral injury.
She is now in doubt for Wimbledon after suffering pectoral soreness.
Contesting her first major since winning last season's Australian Open, Williams was unable to carry her bags from the court after a doubles match on Sunday.
The former world champion's withdrawal gifts Sharapova a quarter-final berth where she will face either Garbine Muguruza or Lesia Tsurenko.
Williams' Wimbledon fate rests on scans of her injured pectoral muscle as the American comes to terms with an abrupt exit from the French Open.
Williams paid the price of contesting six singles and doubles matches in seven days after just four matches in the previous 16 months following childbirth last year.
The American said tests in Paris would decide her future.
"So I'm going to get an MRI tomorrow. I'm going to stay here and see some of the doctors here, see as many specialists as I can," she said.
"And I won't know that until I get those results.
"There is a lot of theories. I have never had this before. I have never felt this in my life. Like, this is so painful.
"So I don't really know how to manage it yet. Sadly, when you do have an injury that you have had before, you can kind of manage it.
"I have pretty much had every injury in the book. But this is a little different, and, yeah, I'm clueless as to what to do.
I'm just going to do what the doctor thinks I should do and get all the evaluations on it."
The winner of 23 majors was due to face Maria Sharapova in a sellout Roland Garros clash, but the appointment was wiped just minutes before the players were due to walk on court.
"I'm beyond disappointed," Williams said.
"I gave up so much, from time with my daughter to time with my family. I put everything on the court, all for this moment.
"So it's really difficult to be in this situation, but I just always try to think positive and just think of the bigger picture and hopefully the next events and the rest of the year.
"And I have made every sacrifice that I could. So it's extremely disappointing.
"But also, I made a promise to myself and to my coach and to my team that if I'm not at least 60 per cent or 50 per cent, then I probably shouldn't play.
"The fact that I physically can't serve at all is a good indication that maybe I should just go back to the drawing board and stay positive and try to get better and not get it to a point where it could be a lot worse.
"Physically I'm doing great. Again, it hasn't been easy. I sacrificed so much to be at this event.
"I can only take solace in the fact I'm going to continue to get better.
"And I had such a wonderful performance in my first grand slam back. I just feel like it's only going to do better.
"And I'm coming up on hopefully surfaces that are my absolute favourite to play on and that I do best on."
Sharapova said: "I was looking forward to my match against Serena today and am disappointed that she had to withdraw. I wish her a speedy recovery and hope she returns to the tour soon."