|Serena Williams returns the ball to Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain during their match at the Rome Masters tennis tournament May 17, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
ROME - Serena Williams said she expected to be 100% fit for next week’s French Open despite withdrawing from the Italian Open on Saturday because of a back injury.
The American had been due to play China’s Li Na in the first semi-final but told a news conference she was pulling out as a precaution.
“On Friday morning I felt a bit of pain in my lower back and if it’s not 100 percent it’s better not to play and make it worse,” the world number six said.
“But I am in good form, I have a few days to get better and I am confident I will be 100 percent fit for the French Open.”
Williams played only four games in the previous round as Flavia Pennetta of Italy retired with a wrist problem.
“Yesterday I might have had to retire as well,” Williams said. “I don’t know because we only played a bit and I didn’t have time to check my condition.”
Williams, who has won claycourt titles in Charleston and Madrid in the past month, said she needed to be careful not to over-play, having been out of the game for a year in 2010 and 2011 because of a blood clot on one of her lungs.
French Open holder Li will go through to play either Maria Sharapova of Russia or Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final.