Serena Williams’ hopes of an eighth Wimbledon title are over after an ankle injury forced the world number eight to retire from her first-round match with Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
The seven-time singles’ winner slipped in the fifth game and left the Centre Court for treatment – before returning after ten minutes.
Opponent Sasnovich said courtside: “I am so sad for Serena. She is a great champion. It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best to her for her recovery.”
Williams had already started her pursuit of a history-making 24th grand slam in fine fashion after breaking her opponent in the fourth game.
While Williams made her way back onto Centre Court, she was emotional as the crowd urged the champion to continue.
A couple of powerful winners raised brief hopes the veteran may be able to last but once it came to her serve she was unable to put weight on her left ankle.
In tears, Williams had to be helped off court and will not join her older sister in the second round after Venus had triumphed in a marathon contest with Mihaela Buzarnescu, which lasted two hours and 37 minutes on Court Three.
After the best efforts of the 39-year-old, she had to call it quits and it means her pursuit of a record-equalling 24th grand slam is again put on hold.
Williams’ injury occurred shortly after Adrian Mannarino had also been forced to retire on Centre Court against Roger Federer after the Frenchman slipped.
Mannarino hurt his right knee and it saw his encounter with the Swiss great brought to an early conclusion at the end of the fourth set.
Earlier this month Serena Williams already confirmed she would not compete at the Olympics in Tokyo and her focus will be on recovering in time for the US Open later in the year.
Additional reporting by PA.