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Sports

July 2, 2014

Wimbledon: Williams’ mystery ailment punctuates bizarre day

WIMBLEDON, England — Staid old Wimbledon got bounced on its fanny here yesterday. Somebody sat on the spectacles and broke them. Egad. Somebody else put lowfat milk on the strawberries. Strange things happened. The orderly became disorderly:

The three historic losses:

An ailing Serena Williams defaulted out of a doubles match with her sister Venus when she couldn’t hit a serve fast enough to register on the speed gun.

Rafael Nadal, who has won 14 major titles, including two on the very Center Court where he was playing, was upset by a 19-year-old Australian ranked No. 144 in the world.

Maria Sharapova, like Nadal a reigning French Open champion, winner of all four major titles at least once and a tough battler, was outfought by a German woman who won despite losing six match points.

The Williams scene was strange. So was the later explanation.

Serena and Venus warmed up on Court 1, then sat down before their match against Kristina Barrois of Germany and Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland was to start. Soon, medical personnel surrounded Serena. She was crying, they took her blood pressure and had her follow their finger with her eyes.

That took 15 minutes and then, without further explanation, apparently with no medical ruling that she shouldn’t be out there — nor additional warmup time for Barrois and Voegele — all were sent out to play.

It got more bizarre.

When it was Serena’s turn to serve, at 0-2, she was barely able to get the ball to the net. It wasn’t serving. It was a 5-year-old’s pitty-pat. She was clearly in some sort of serious distress — this is the player with the fastest serve in woman’s tennis — and yet the doctors, her sister and other officials let her pitty-pat four times before the chair umpire left her perch and suggested the Williams sisters end this.

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