Retired tennis legend Martina Navratilova says that Serena Williams’ recent Wimbledon illness was no virus. The 18-time Grand Slam champion told ESPNW that whatever it was, she didn’t believe it was the “viral illness’’ that a Wimbledon spokesman and Willams herself said it was.
“I think ‘virus,’ whatever they’re saying it was, I don’t think that was it. I think it’s clear that’s not the case,” Navratilova said. “I don’t know what it is, but I hope Serena will be OK. And most of all, I don’t know how she ended up walking onto the court. It’s the most inexplicable thing of all that she was clearly in no state to play a match and that with all the people around her, that they didn’t stop her from getting on the court…Everybody was put in such a difficult position, including the WTA. It’s not right. It defies logic on so many fronts.”
After both were eliminated in singles competition, Serena, a six-time Wimbledon champion, was competing in doubles with older sister Venus at Wimbledon earlier this week. At the warm-up for the match, Serena, 32, appeared weak and unsteady on her feet. Despite missing easy shots and seemingly barely able to hit a serve, Serena attempted to play for three games, then finally gave up after her ability to play was questioned by an umpire and her coach and trainers tried to assist her.
Part of Navratilova’s issue was that Williams tried to play at all. The former champion said that Williams put many people in a bad position by not being ready to compete
“Once you step onto the court, you’re a professional tennis player, you’ve got to be ready to play. No matter what is ailing you or no matter if you did anything to get you in that state or you’re sick or whatever, you don’t step on the court. You don’t step on the court, no matter what.”
Serena and Venus have suffered from a number of illnesses in the last several years. Serena had surgery on a lacerated foot, then was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and a hematoma, almost killing her. Venus has been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes joint pain, swelling and numbness.
Navratilova gave no details on why she felt Serena’s illness stemmed from something other than the “bug” Williams says it was. Via Instagram, Serena shared a photo of herself at home on the couch and said that she was grateful for the support she received from her family, friends and fans.
(Photo: Associated Press, Serena Williams IG)