But the tennis icon had plenty to tell supporters on Instagram later.
“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” she wrote with a photo of her entering Centre Court in a train skirt. “My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on ― and off ― the court meant the world to me.”
Williams slipped and hurt her leg in a first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, prompting her to quit the tournament. The withdrawals of defending champ Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka before the event opened up the draw a bit for the sixth-seeded Williams, but it was not to be.
Williams attempted to play for a while after losing her footing. But later, wincing and in tears, she called it a match and waved to the crowd.
Williams, 39, can count the grass-court competition among her recent close calls to finally tie Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam singles titles at 24. She lost in the final in 2018 and 2019, the last time the tournament was played before the pandemic. Williams won her 23rd championship at the 2017 Australian Open, giving her the most Slam singles titles in the Open era.
Williams said earlier that she would not be available to play in the Tokyo Olympics, which begin July 23.