Crashing out on the court

Odd injuries on and off the playing surface regularly plague elite tennis players, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Serena Williams will miss the US Open next week because of a freak injury.

Serena Williams is still counting the cost of her celebrations after her victory at Wimbledon. The world No1 was partying with friends at a restaurant in Germany after her 13th grand slam triumph when she cut her right foot on broken glass. Details of the accident have been sketchy, but the injury required surgery and she has not played since. She will also miss the US Open, which begins on Monday in New York.

As people still speculate over what happened, the accident has been ranked as among the more bizarre in the world of tennis. But there have been plenty of other instances of tennis players managing to put themselves out of action away from the court. Last year at the Thailand Open, Sam Querrey suffered a similar fate, needing emergency surgery after falling through a glass table. According to reports, the American "was just bending over to tie his shoes and the table shattered. A piece of glass slashed his right forearm".

Glass was also responsible for dashing the hopes of the US Davis Cup team in 1906. Beals Wright, the reigning US singles champion, cut his right hand as he tried to open a bottle of soda water without a bottle opener. It was the night before the team was set to sail for England. A left-hander, he did leave with the team, but suffered from a wound infection at sea and the forefingers of his right hand had to be amputated.

There have been other freakish injuries in tennis, with Goran Ivanisevic figuring in a few. The Croatian had to withdraw from a tournament in Miami in 2003 when he stepped on a sharp seashell on a Florida beach. On another occasion, he was left needing stitches after trying to head a ball over the net. Instead, he banged heads with his doubles partner Mark Philippoussis, who was left concussed. Ivanisevic has also closed a door on one of his fingers, breaking it.

Kim Clijsters, the reigning US Open women's champion, once tripped over her dog while playing football. She bruised her back and was forced to take two days off. "I stumbled over Diesel [the dog] and fell badly," she said after the incident. "Very stupid." Tommy Haas would surely share her sentiments; he tripped over a ball that fell out from his pocket during a warm-up. He was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the Russian player, reportedly broke his knuckles punching a heavy bag, while Lleyton Hewitt cracked two ribs falling down a flight of stairs. James Blake slammed into the net post during a practice session in Rome, suffering heavy injuries to his, neck, spine and head. On court, few injuries come close to being as gruesome as Michael Stitch's agonising roll after his left ankle snapped.

And then there is the tale of a linesmen dying after being hit by a Stefan Edberg shot at the 1983 US Open boys tournament. Richard Wertheim was hit in the groin and fell backwards, fracturing his skull. He was rushed to hospital, but died shortly after.