Serena Speaks on Withdrawal
"I am sad and disappointed"
8/15/04 6:26 PM
Hours after telling Kelly Ripa and Bryant Gumbel (sitting in for Reege) how an Olympic gold medal means more to her than winning a Grand Slam event, tennis star Serena Williams had to withdraw from the 2004 U.S. Olympic team on the advice of doctors who examined her injured knee. She released the following statement:
“I am sad and disappointed, not only because I am unable to travel to Greece and participate in the Olympics, but also because I gave my word that I would play. I feel that I am letting down my sister, Venus, Zina Garrison, and the other members of the U.S. Tennis team by not participating. But, I have no choice. I have been advised that by playing, I could cause long-term damage to my knee, possibly causing me to miss the remaining tournaments scheduled for this year. It was a heartwrenching decision not to board that plane tonight, but I must heed to the advice of the specialists, and not risk long-term or permanent damage to my knee.”
Serena underwent successful surgery in Los Angeles one year ago for a partial tear in the mid-portion of the quadriceps tendon of her left knee. However, the area was reinjured the week of July 26 during play at the Acura Classic in San Diego. Serena withdrew from the tournament, and the following Rogers Cup tournament scheduled in Montreal last week so that her knee would be in top form for the Olympics.
During this time, doctors were telling her to skip the trip to Athens because the knee was not 100 percent, and further play on it could sideline her for the rest of the year. Serena, however, wasn’t trying to hear it. Her commitment to the United States Tennis Association, (USTA), the International Olympics Committee, (IOC), and the American Team was too important to her.
So Tuesday, she and her sister Venus hit the talk show circuit (“The Today Show” and “Regis & Kelly”) to discuss their dream of winning a second doubles gold medal. Afterwards, Serena went to her previously scheduled appointment with New York specialist, David Altchek, M.D. - who underscored what previous doctors had told her, and ultimately convinced the player to pull out.