Serena Williams' spasms hand Andreescu Toronto crown

Updated: Aug 13, 2019, 18:09 IST | AFP

Andreescu, 19, was up 3-1 with a break of serve when 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams decided she couldn't continue

Serena Williams' spasms hand Andreescu Toronto crown
Canada's Bianca Andreescu with the Toronto trophy. Pics /AFP

Toronto (Canada): A tearful Serena Williams saw her US Open preparation thrown into disarray on Sunday as back spasms forced her out of the WTA Toronto final after just four games, handing Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu the title.

Andreescu, 19, was up 3-1 with a break of serve when 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams decided she couldn't continue. She called for a medical timeout, but within a minute, the umpire announced she was retiring.

"I just knew," said Williams, adding she'd undergone hours of treatment before the match to combat the back spasms she'd first felt in a semi-final win on Saturday night. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to continue."

Serena says sorry

Serena Williams

Andreescu approached her chair, offering words of encouragement and a consolatory hug as Williams tried to fight back tears. "I'm sorry I couldn't do it today," Williams told the crowd, her voice cracking.

"I tried but I just couldn't do it." Williams said the spasms started during her come-from-behind win over Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova on Saturday "and it just got worse."

"Just my whole back just completely spasmed, and to a point where I couldn't sleep and I couldn't really move," she said. Nevertheless, she wanted to give it a go in the final.

"I don't want to get this far and not at least try," said Williams, 37, who was eyeing her 73rd WTA title — and her first since the birth of her daughter, Olympia, in September 2017.

Beaten by Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final in July, Williams was playing just her 24th match of a year already disrupted by nagging knee trouble.

Williams hasn't won a title since the 2017 Australian Open. Since returning to competition after Olympia's birth, she has reached three Grand Slam finals — and she remained optimistic that she would be ready to try to match Australian Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slams when the US Open starts on August 26.

"Well, that's the most frustrating part is that I've had this before and it's, like, 24, 36 hours where I'm just in crazy spasm and then it's, like, gone," said Williams, who wasn't immediately sure whether she'd play next week in Cincinnati.

Osaka retains No. 1 spot

Meanwhile, US and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka returned to the World No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings Osaka, 21, lost to Williams in the quarter-finals of last week's Rogers Cup but benefitted from the second round defeat of former No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and the failure of Karolina Pliskova to reach the semis in Toronto.

After seven weeks on top, Barty slips to second with Pliskova in third.

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