BRUSSELS – Another foot fault has deprived women's tennis of one of its best players.
Kim Clijsters mangled her ankle at a wedding party last weekend, likely forcing the U.S. and Australian Open winner from the French Open.
Her mishap recalls the accident that sidelined Serena Williams immediately after her Wimbledon victory last year. She cut her foot on broken glass at a restaurant in Germany, resulting in two operations.
Williams' misery was compounded by other health concerns and the 13-time major champion has not played since. She was diagnosed in February with a blood clot in her lungs, then needed treatment for a hematoma.
When the French Open starts May 22, tennis might well have to do without the winners of the last three Grand Slam tournaments.
On Saturday, Clijsters was wearing high heels when she stepped on someone's foot at the wedding of her cousin Tim. The complex injury — ligaments were stretched on top of a torn ankle joint capsule and tendon sheath — will force her to keep her right ankle immobilized for several days and will leave her on crutches.
According to her website, the No. 2-ranked player faces a recovery of at least four to six weeks.
"Since the French Open starts in literally six weeks, Kim's presence in Paris is very uncertain," the statement said.
Even in the best of circumstances, she would have to come in cold on her least favorite surface — slow, red clay.
On top of the ankle injury, Clijsters already had said she would take a month off to deal with shoulder and wrist problems stemming from a hectic spring schedule. She has been ruled out of the Fed Cup semifinal against the Czech Republic this weekend. Belgium was favored to win until she withdrew.
The 27-year-old Clijsters is playing tennis again after a 2½-year break to start a family. Injuries were her worst fear when she returned, and now they've come in quick succession. Her hope had been to play at next year's London Olympics before retiring for good. For now, however, she needs to heal and get back on the tour.