Two two-time Indian Wells champion Serena Williams will not have the opportunity to chase the third crown in the desert and the first since 2001, retiring against Garbine Muguruza while trailing 6-3, 1-0 after 46 minutes.
Serena defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-3 in the second round, in what was one of the best matches on the Tour in recent years despite a high number of breaks, looking good today as well after racing into a 3-0 lead. Out of sudden, she started to struggle and lost the next seven games before deciding to retire following the first game of the second set, allowing Garbine to celebrate the third win over the American in six matches, playing for the first time since 2016 Roland Garros final.
Serena claimed eight points in the opening two return games although that was not enough to keep her safe, playing with no energy and losing serve thrice in a row to hand the opener to the Spaniard. After a conversation with the trainer, Serena decided to take no medical timeout and continued to play, barely moving and dropping all four points in that opening game of the second set before acknowledged she has had enough.
This was the 14th retirement in a career for Serena on the WTA Tour, the first since Wuhan 2014 and only the second in the last ten years, always giving her best on the court and fighting for every point like it is the last one.
After making a comeback at Indian Wells last year, Serena has played just nine tournaments and her best results came at Majors, reaching the final at Wimbledon and the US Open, also losing in the quarter-final in Melbourne to Karolina Pliskova after wasting four match ponts.