Sore Back knocks Serena Williams out of Rome Masters


Serena Williams withdrew on Saturday prior to the Rome Masters semi-final with China’s Li Na, with the American admitting she just had been feeling small twinges and will be fine for the French Open.

“I’m fine, I’ll be 100 per cent for the French,” said 30-year-old Williams, who added she pulled out to make sure she didn’t aggravate the injury.

“I’ve been feeling a little pain this week and I have a huge schedule coming up,” said the American who was on a 17-match win streak on clay.

China’s eighth seed Li could not have asked for better timing as she heads into her Roland Garros title defence beginning in eight days.

Li will play for the Rome title against German Angelique Kerber or defending champion Maria Sharapova.

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Williams did not face much of a match in the quarter-finals, needing less than half an hour on court as opponent Flavia Pennetta quit after four games with a wrist problem.

“I would have hoped to have played until the end of that match but it would have depended on my back,” said 13-time grand slam winner Williams, the 2002 Rome champion.

Williams has won two clay titles in recent weeks, in Charleston and Madrid.

“I’ve been playing a lot and my body is getting used to a lot of matches again. My form is good heading to Paris. I want to be ready for the next couple of months (French Open, Wimbledon, Olympics and US Open).

“I’m just living for the moment now, maybe I’ll stay a few days in Rome, I really love the city,” said Williams.