INDIAN WELLS, United States, Mar 11 – Serena Williams retired with a viral illness from her third-round WTA match at Indian Wells on Sunday while trailing Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 1-0 in a battle of former world number ones.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, was seeded 10th as she continues to work her way back up the rankings in the wake of time off to have a baby.
She got off to a strong start, winning the first three games of the match, but called for the trainer after losing six straight to the Spaniard.
After a long talk with the trainer, Williams took the court for the second set, but called it a day after Muguruza held at love in the opening game.
It was a disappointing end to Williams’s second tournament of 2019, after a quarter-final exit at the Australian Open.
Williams and Muguruza were meeting for the sixth time. All five of their prior matches came in Grand Slams, the last two in Grand Slam finals with Williams winning at Wimbledon in 2015 and Muguruza walking off with the 2016 French Open crown.
“We’ve played many times and it’s always super-tough, super-exciting,” said Muguruza, currently ranked 20th in the world. “I wish I’m going to see her soon and feeling better.”
Muguruza said she first realized that Williams wasn’t feeling well when she sought the trainer after the opening set.
“I think she started playing well, right away with her serve, with her shots, being very dominating,” Muguruza said. “I had to adapt a little bit my position in the court, the way I was hitting. It took me a few games to do it. Once I did I felt much more comfortable to be able to release my tennis.”
Muguruza next faces seventh-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, a 7-6 (12/10), 6-4 winner over Britain’s Johanna Konta.
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