Serena Williams has once again been forced out of action with illness, after pulling out of the Wuhan Open in China on Tuesday.
The world number one was leading in her second round match against France’s Alize Cornet 6-5 in the first set, in what was her first match since winning her sixth US Open title earlier in September.
After securing a break of serve in the 11th game, the American was due to serve for the set, but the tournament doctor was then called on to the Centre Court, and after having her temperature taken, she withdrew from the match and was taken to hospital.
Echoes of Wimbledon exit
Officials later said that her retirement was due to a viral illness, echoing her exit from Wimbledon in July, where she was forced to pull out of the women’s doubles with a mysterious illness, and it has never been confirmed what exactly the illness was.
The 32-year-old was left bedridden for the next three days after her departure from the All England Club, but she had returned to action by the end of July, and it seemed to have no effect on her form, as she won titles in Stanford and Cincinnati before sealing her 18th Grand Slam title in New York.
It is not yet known as to the seriousness of the latest bout of illness, or if it can be linked to the same health problems she suffered at Wimbledon, where she was knocked out of the women’s singles by Cornet in the third round, three days before pulling out of her doubles match alongside her sister Venus.
Should she return to action, Williams will be scheduled to play in the Beijing Open next week, before the WTA Championships in Singapore in October, which is the year ending tournament played between the world’s top eight players.
Year ending number one
Regardless of whether Williams is able to play again this year or not, she will not lose her position at the top of the WTA rankings, as second placed Simona Halep trails her by over 3000 points and was knocked out of the tournament herself by Garbine Muguruza at the same stage on Tuesday.
Remaining at the top will come as a relief to Williams, as not only has she had to deal with viral illnesses this year, but she also failed to reach the quarter-finals of the first three Grand Slams of the year, before her form picked up in the summer.