Serena Williams has broken down in tears while sharing the devastating news that close friend and physio Esther Lee is battling pancreatic cancer.
The tennis legend took to social media this week to announce that she will be participating in the LA Cancer Challenge 5K on Team Esther to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer.
Williams was moved to tears a number of times during the video as she struggled to contain her emotions. “I don’t think I can do this, this is going to be too hard,” she said.
“My dear friend Esther has been a huge part of my own health journey, and now she needs our help as she battles pancreatic cancer. “Esther has been named the honourary starter for the LA Cancer Challenge 5K walk-run on October 31st in UCLA, benefitting the Hirshberg Foundation.
“My family and I have joined Team Esther to help support everyone fighting this disease. “Please join us as we raise awareness and race towards a cure by finding and advancing critical research.”
Dr Lee has been the physio for Williams and sister Venus for a large portion of their careers. She is often spotted courtside at their matches and posing for photos on the Williams sisters’ social media accounts.
Sending love to you and Esther. Thank you for raising money for the cause. She may also want to check out PanCan here in LA, which has a terrific patient navigator program.
— lisa baertlein (@LisaBaertlein) October 22, 2021
It breaks my heart to see a person so dear to your family going through this. Every donation, even If it’s small, makes a difference. I send prayers to Esther and all those people who are fighting this terrible disease 🙏🙏🙏.
— Jeniffer L. Estrada (@Jeniestra) October 22, 2021
So sorry for your friend, Esther….it’s so hard to see our friends in any discomfort but especially with cancer. Praying for the best outcome. Donation on the way.
— Susan Decker (@decker8mom) October 22, 2021
Serena Williams battling to get back on court
The 40-year-old Williams said she will be walking rather than running the 5K as she continues to recover from a leg injury. The 23 time grand slam champion hasn’t played since retiring hurt in the opening round at Wimbledon in July.
She has since announced her 2021 season is over but is hoping to be back on court in time for the Australian Open in January. American great Pam Shriver recently said she doubts Williams will be able to recover easily from too many more injuries.
“Obviously she’s reaching a point where, with what we saw at the Wimbledon, with the slip, the injury, she couldn’t finish Wimbledon,” Shriver said. “She’s getting to a point where, physically, obviously, she is walking that fine line, where it’s almost one injury away from not being able to continue on and that’s gonna be a difficult day for tennis and obviously for her.”
The 22-time grand slam doubles winner went on to praise Williams for her influence, not just in tennis, but the wider community. “Obviously, she’s a mother, she’s a wife, she’s an entrepreneur, she’s got a venture fund, I believe,” Shriver added.
“She’s interested in business, she’s interested in entertainment. So, it’s like a walking mogul, who happens to be the greatest female tennis player of all time. “So, she is one of the most interesting people that I have come over in contact with.”
The injury forced Williams to skip the US Open in August, leaving her stranded on 23 grand slam titles and still one behind the all-time record held by Australian great Margaret Court.
The 40-year-old hasn’t won a grand slam title since the 2017 Australian Open, finishing runner-up on four occasions since.