Tennis great Boris Becker fears slipping Serena Williams may have played her last match at Wimbledon.
The 39-year-old tennis superstar was forced to retire in the first set of her first-round clash on Tuesday night after injuring her ankle on the slippery Centre Court grass.
Williams was one of several stars who lost their footing on the surface and Wimbledon chiefs blamed the wet weather for the grounded aces.
German Becker, the three-time singles winner, now fears we may have seen the 23-time Grand Slam champion at SW19 for the last time.
“It’s the last thing that a champion like Serena wants to do — leave her favorite courts with a walkover,” he said.
“She can barely walk straight. We’ve got to get used to the fact that this might be the last time.
“She is past 30. It’s another year of coming back, injuries, wear-and-tear, she also had an injury at the French Open.
“It is sad to see but time waits for no man or woman.
“The courts seem to be a little bit slippery this year, a number of players have been complaining.
“Her left ankle went one way, her right leg went sideways.
“She must have strained whatever injury she already had.
“Unfortunately she had to quit.”
On Tuesday evening, Williams’ left ankle gave way as she tried to hit a return in just the fifth game against Belarusian opponent Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
The American left the court for treatment and tried to continue on her return, despite looking visibly upset.
Tim Henman, a former Wimbledon darling and now on the Wimbledon board, defended his bosses and said the grass is always ‘lush’ at the start of the two-week Championships.
She fell to the turf again at 3-3, crying out in pain and was forced to concede the match — helped off the court by medics.
It ended her chances of finally winning a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title — at least at SW19 this year. The world No. 8 has been stuck on 23 since winning the Australian Open in 2017 and has lost the last two Wimbledon finals as she aims to draw level with Margaret Court.
“In 13 years the preparation of the courts has been absolutely identical.
“There’s no doubt the one thing that has been different this year is the weather in the lead up to the tournament, we had a very damp practice week.
“The court and the plant doesn’t have the chance to dry out. Add that the roof has been closed for the first two days and that is why you are going to see some slipping and sliding.
“Early in the tournament the court is at its most lush and it can be a bit challenging moving.
“From the club point of view they wanted to check the humidity levels on centre court and number one with the roof closed and the humidity levels were lower – and that’s because we aren’t at full capacity.
“We don’t want to see injuries. The ground staff are meticulous in their preparation of the courts and nothing has changed.”