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Serena quits Family Circle, Fed Cup
Updated: 2004-04-16 10:15

Serena Williams' comeback was cut short.

The six-time major champion withdrew from the Family Circle Cup on Thursday, saying her left knee is sore from practicing and playing too much after returning from an eight-month absence.

The announcement comes a day after Williams pulled out of the U.S. Fed Cup team's first-round match at Slovenia and raises questions about Williams' fitness with the French Open less than six weeks away.

She had knee surgery Aug. 1, then missed the U.S. Open and Australian Open, returning to the tour just last month.

"The official diagnosis by the doctor was that he was shocked I was playing this many tournaments in the beginning," Williams said.

"He said normally when you're coming back from a procedure like me, you should play one week and then maybe take a week or two weeks off."

Williams won the first tournament of her return, at Key Biscayne, Fla. She played the next week at Amelia Island, Fla., losing in the quarterfinals, and then came to this clay-court tournament.

"She's playing it a little safe, but I think she tried to bite off too much to begin with. She was trying to play five weeks in a row," ESPN analyst and former player Pam Shriver said. "That's a lot when you haven't played in eight months and you have a surgically repaired left knee."

Williams beat Kelly McCain 6-1, 6-0 Tuesday in the second round here. But the reigning Wimbledon champ withdrew about 1 1/2 hours before she was scheduled to play Conchita Martinez on Thursday, saying she has been pushing too hard in recent weeks.

"It's kind of like I'm playing every day. In order to prepare for Miami I was practicing weeks and weeks and weeks in advance," she said.

Williams said she should have stopped playing after last week's tournament in Florida, "but I was too excited by the fact I was coming back" to Charleston, where she was a finalist last year.

Williams said she has not had her knee tested recently.

"I feel confident that it's fine when the doctor was checking it out. The surgery site is 100 percent, and it's another part of the area of the knee that is kind of just compensating for the surgery site and it was, again, too many tournaments in a row," she said.

She said that sliding on the clay "was giving my leg a lot of problems."

But Williams said she plans to play in a French Open tuneup in Rome next month and said her rehabilitation would consist of running and strength work for her legs.

"It's unfortunate. But I thought she was playing an awful lot of tennis the first time back after being out seven or eight months," said Lindsay Davenport, who won Thursday to reach the quarterfinals. "On top of that, playing so many matches in Miami and winning a tournament and then switching surfaces. That kind of may be a recipe for possible disaster."

"There's no way a surgically repaired knee can hold up with a lot of matches, changing of surfaces and just keep going on it," added Davenport, who missed most of the 2002 season after knee surgery. "I was actually surprised she came here."

Williams planned to stay in Charleston through the weekend.

Venus Williams, a four-time Grand Slam tournament champion, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian Thursday evening.

She said her sister's knee problem is really the result of "an ambitious schedule" that her sister committed to before this year.

"Coming from surgery even just coming from being off if you try to play that much your body just says 'No,'" Venus Williams said. "It happened to me just this year also. My body said 'No, Venus.'"

Venus Williams also missed part of last season and the start of this season with a strained stomach muscle.

"Everyone feels a certain degree of uncertainty with the Williams sisters as to when they are going to get over their injuries," Shriver said.

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