Serena Williams is surrounded by medical staff at Indian Wells.
Serena Williams is surrounded by medical staff at Indian Wells.

Serena Williams’ shock ‘viral’ retirement

Serena Williams has faded quickly at Indian Wells, retiring from her match with Spain's dual grand slam winner Garbine Muguruza with what was described as a "viral illness" by the WTA Tour.

Williams was leading the match 3-0 before Muguruza reeled off six straight games to take the opening set 6-3 and then drama hit centre court.

Williams, who blew her chance at an eighth Australian Open title in January when she fell apart in her quarter-final against Karolina Pliskova, was playing her first tournament since then.

And while it appeared to be going smoothly early, the 37-year-old was quickly uncomfortable against the Spaniard, barely moving to chase down shots.

Williams' poor movement was a bone of contention in Australia as she appeared sluggish at times, but this was something new and as Muguruza went from strength to strength Williams weakened.

With Williams serving at 3-3 she really started to get the wobbles and was failing to extend into her action. Muguruza took full advantage to go a break up before breaking Serena's serve again, this time to love, as she took the set.

The American then called for the trainer and complained of dizziness and talked to the physio about pain in her leg.

Williams played on but when Muguruza held for a 6-3 1-0 lead the American retired and went to her chair with the commentator revealing Williams was saying: "I can't breathe."

Muguruza then shook hands with a clearly distressed Williams at her chair, as the commentators were left to reflect on the bizarre scenes.

"I've never seen her like that it's so, so rare," said one.

"Even those first 3 games where the ball was coming off her racket so beautifully she did not look OK between points and didn't look like she was having fun at all."

The loss is Williams' third to Muguruza and second consecutive, with the other being the 2016 French Open final.


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