The Injuries and Ailments that Kept Serena Williams Off the Courts for a Year

At the age of 40, one of the most successful tennis players in history returned to the courts at Wimbledon. Although she didn't have a dream comeback, she wants to leave behind a series of physical problems that affected her for a long time.
The Injuries and Ailments that Kept Serena Williams Off the Courts for a Year

Last update: 18 July, 2022

Every edition of Wimbledon is special, there’s no doubt about that. However, this year was marked, among other things, by the return of Serena Williams, affected by injuries and ailments that kept her out of competition for 363 days.

The return of the youngest of the Williams sisters is big news for the tournament. In the “cathedral of tennis”, the American has won the title no fewer than 7 times. She also holds the record of having been the youngest champion, at the age of 16, in the mixed doubles in 1998.

Despite her undeniable talents, it’s a fact of life that time passes for everyone. At 40 years of age, the tennis player had to fight against some injuries to be able to finish her career as an athlete, competing as she deserves.

What kept Serena Williams off the courts for a year?

Serena Williams returned to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, where Wimbledon is played, after 363 days without playing. In that same tournament, in 2021, she got an injury in her right leg that forced her to withdraw in the first round.

More precisely, Williams suffered a muscle tear in the hamstring. This type of injury is the rupture of the fibers that make up a muscle.

It’s a problem that usually occurs when there’s a sudden, abrupt or repeated contraction of the fibers. If the fibers are fatigued or the person’s state of hydration is insufficient, the risk is greater.

The hamstring is located at the back of the thigh. The area is made up of 3 muscles: the semitendinosus, the semimembranosus and the biceps femoris. All are essential for knee and hip movements, so necessary in this and other sports.

Serena Williams playing.
The movements of the lower limbs are intense in professional tennis, with sudden running and braking.

Other complications that affected Serena Williams

Now, even though it’s one of the most severe muscle injuries, a tear on its own doesn’t keep an athlete out for a year. So, what else happened to Serena Williams to keep her away from the tennis courts for so long?

After the months it took her to treat the tear, Serena Williams had to face an old but well-known affliction: migraines. In the world of sports, it’s a condition that’s rarely discussed, but it can be very disabling for those suffering from it.

I didn’t retire. I needed to heal myself physically and mentally, I had no plans, I just didn’t know when I would make my comeback and in what state I would return.

~ Serena Williams ~

These acute headaches have accompanied the tennis player for many years, but according to what she has told the press, they worsened during the pandemic. The pressure in sport, personal life problems, and her business projects may be some of the factors that most influenced the onset of the episodes, also motivated by hereditary and environmental factors.

To combat migraine, Serena Williams resorted to a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, she reduced her workload and suspended her sports activities. On the other, she followed her doctor’s advice regarding medication.

You may be interested in: 10 Common Migraine Triggers

The tapes on Serena Williams’ eyes

One of the things that attracted the most attention during Serena Williams’ comeback after her injuries was the use of black tapes under her right eye. This is because the American tennis player suffers from sinusitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the sinuses and causes pain and breathing difficulties.

As Williams’ case is chronic, she resorts to these plasters to prevent discomfort. Whether training or competing, the difficulty in breathing is an obstacle for her if she doesn’t take this type of palliative measure.

Serena Williams.
Chronic sinusitis, such as the one Williams suffers from, is difficult to combat. It affects the respiratory dynamics.

Leaving injuries behind is the goal

Last year, the athlete intended to return to compete in New York at the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year. However, the aforementioned problems prevented her from doing so.

Throughout her career, Serena Williams’ injuries have interrupted her performances on several occasions. For example, she had to have surgery on her left knee twice. Likewise, she underwent surgery after suffering several cuts with glass on one of her feet at a party. She also had a tendon operation.

Finally, Serena Williams even had to overcome a pulmonary embolism for which she was urgently hospitalized. This disease is the obstruction of the blood flow to the lungs by a blood clot. It’s a serious and potentially fatal condition, depending on the size of the blockage and the artery affected.

But this is all in the past. In 2022, the winner of 23 Grand Slams will be looking to rediscover her best form. Most importantly of all, she will try to lay to rest the ghosts of the injuries that have robbed her of so much of her playing time this year.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.