The second round of the Italian Open was full of action Wednesday, with two of the world’s best exiting early.
First, Serena Williams’ 1,000th tour-level match, and her return to the court, ended in a 7-6 (6), 7-5 loss to Nadia Podoroska.
Williams entered the match seeded eighth after having not played in nearly three months since the Australian Open. Williams got off to a slow start, coming back from being down a break twice in the opening set and saving the first three set points she faced in the tiebreaker before Podoroska converted her fourth.
In the second set, the 24-year-old Podoroska took a 5-2 lead. Williams fought back again to level the match at 5-5. But Podorosa went on to break Williams in the 12th game to seal her third career win over a top-10 player.
Williams will look to rebound and make history at Roland-Garros beginning May 30.
Meanwhile, world No. 3 Simona Halep had to retire in the second set against Angelique Kerber after going down with a lower leg injury. The Romanian later learned she tore her calf.
“Unfortunately an ultrasound has revealed that I have a tear in my left calf,” Halep said on Twitter. “I will get an MRI tomorrow to understand the injury in more detail, but at the moment we are unsure of recovery time.
Halep appeared to sustain the injury while returning an errant serve by Kerber at 6-3, 3-3. She tried to play the next point before stopping and requesting assistance to the bench.
Halep will now hope to recover in time to play the French Open and then defend her title at Wimbledon, which begins June 28.