The 23-time Grand Slam champion's injuries raise questions about her performance ahead of the U.S. Open starting August 26

By Georgia Slater
August 14, 2019 11:44 AM

Due to ongoing back issues, Serena Williams withdrew from the Cincinnati Masters shortly before her first round match on Tuesday evening.

“I came to Mason on Sunday and have tried everything to be ready to play tonight, and was still hopeful after my practice this morning,” Williams said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “But unfortunately my back is still not right, and I know I should not take to the court.”

“I promise I’ll do my best to be back here next year,” Williams said.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion’s injuries raise questions about her performance ahead of the U.S. Open starting August 26, where she hopes to be awarded a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title.

In an attempt to give Williams as much time as possible to recover from her back spasms, the organizers of the Cincinnati Masters scheduled her first match in the latest slot available on Tuesday night, according to the Times.

Williams decision to withdraw came two hours after William’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, shared a video on Twitter showing she was preparing for the match.

Williams was replaced in the match by Jessica Pegula, the Times reported.

The decorated tennis star, 37, was also forced to retire last Sunday from the Rogers Cup final match in Toronto after four games due to a back injury, according to ESPN. Bianca Andreescu, the 19-year-old Canadian tennis star, claimed the championship title over Williams, who was trailing Andreescu, 3-1, in the first set.

Williams reportedly explained that the issues had begun Saturday night during her semifinal victory over Marie Bouskova.