Serena Williams pulls out of French Open grudge match with Maria Sharapova through injury

SERENA WILLIAMS has pulled out of her French Open grudge match with Maria Sharapova.

The American ace, 36, has withdrawn from the eagerly-anticipated clash after apparently claiming she'd "never lose to that little b**** again".

 Serena Williams has been forced to pull out of her clash with Maria Sharapova

Alamy Live News
Serena Williams has been forced to pull out of her clash with Maria Sharapova
 Serena Williams expressed her disappointment at missing out on the clash

EPA
Serena Williams expressed her disappointment at missing out on the clash

Sharapova will now advance to the quarter-finals as new mum Williams has been forced to pull out through injury.

The pair were set to meet for the 22nd time in their long careers, but her arm injury was too much to overcome.

At her press conference on Monday, Williams – who has never pulled out before a Grand Slam match before – revealed: "Unfortunately have been having some issues with my pec, my pec muscle.

"[It] has unfortunately been getting worse to the point where right now I can't actually serve. It's kind of hard to play when I can't physically serve.

 Serena Williams revealed the injury meant she could hardly serve the ball

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Serena Williams revealed the injury meant she could hardly serve the ball
 Serena Williams' latest injury has left her almost completely unable to serve

Alamy Live News
Serena Williams' latest injury has left her almost completely unable to serve

“It’s very difficult because I love playing Maria. It’s a match I always get up for and her game matches up against mine.

“I’m beyond disappointed. I gave up so much and gave everything on the court, all for this moment."

She and Sharapova have not met since the Australian Open quarter final of 2016, after which the latter tested positive for banned drug meldonium.

The Russian’s 15-month suspension and Williams’ absence to have her first child delayed them renewing their on-court rivalry, of which the American has dominated with 19 wins out of 21 meetings and her last defeat coming in 2004.

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 Serena Williams' withdrawal means Maria Sharapova advances in Paris

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Serena Williams' withdrawal means Maria Sharapova advances in Paris

Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou said: "I feel it’s bad, I feel there’s no way she can play, but I also feel that one extra match would have made it really worse and put in danger Wimbledon.

"But I think she stopped at exactly the right moment, that’s my feeling, but we’ll know more tomorrow."

Sharapova said she was upset her rival had to pull out, saying afterwards:

Sharapova said: "I was looking forward to my match against Serena. today am disappointed that she had to withdraw.

"I wish her a speedy recovery and hope she returns to the tour soon."

 The old enemies were set to meet for the 22nd time in their long careers

AP:Associated Press
The old enemies were set to meet for the 22nd time in their long careers

Sharapova claimed in her autobiography that Williams told a pal that she would not lose to her again.

According to one serialisation, Sharapova goes on to say: "I heard that Serena told a friend — who then told me — ‘I will never lose to that little bitch again.’”

But that quote is missing from some published copies of the autobiography.

Williams dismissed the book as “100 per cent hearsay”, said she had “no negative feelings” towards Sharapova, and criticised her for breaking locker-room confidentiality.

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SERENA WILLIAMS has pulled out of her French Open grudge match with Maria Sharapova.