Late in the opening set of Venus Williams’ second-round Australian Open match against Sara Errani, the 40-year-old injured her ankle and knee after am awkward stumble on the way to a volley near the net. It looked to be the kind of knock that would take her out of the tournament, given that she had to temporarily use her racket to help her walk to the bench.
While her injury came during a 5-1 deficit in the first set, Williams used back-to-back medical timeouts and pushed through to the end of the set. Errani eventually took the match 6-1, 6-0.
That Williams pushed through the visible pain was proof enough that she didn’t go down without a fight, but there was also evidence of that in the scoresheet, as she was able to take points off her opponent even as she limped from spot to spot on the court.
Though Williams got her licks in, Errani eventually began responding with drop shots — which some found to be unsportsmanlike — that the oldest competitor in the competition was just unable to respond to. Even in victory, the Italian had only shock in her postmatch presser in regards to her Williams’ perseverance.
“I thought she would retire, because she wasn’t running. She was walking badly. … I was worrying about her more than thinking about how I should play,” Errani said, per the Associated Press. “I was thinking, ‘Who knows? Maybe at a certain point she’ll say enough is enough.’ But instead, she continued right up until the end.”
It’s not the first time Williams has been quiet about injuries during her career. It has been that way, especially during the period after she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, which is an auto-immune disease that causes joint pain and drains a person’s energy. Even in her only comments of the match, which were posted on Instagram, Williams noted that she’s already looking past this incident because she left it all out on the court.