Injury forces Jankovic to withdraw

Jelena Jankovic, the 2007 Family Circle Cup champion, was forced to withdraw Thursday because of an injury to her right foot. File/Grace Beahm

Jelena Jankovic’s appearance Thursday on Stadium Court was brief, but one the 2007 Family Circle Cup Champion felt she owed to the spectators who showed up to watch her play Danka Kovinic.

Jankovic hobbled out to the net and apologized to the fans, many of whom didn’t know that she had to inform Family Circle Cup officials she would be unable to play the night’s feature match because of an injury to her right foot suffered in Tuesday’s win over Tatjana Maria. Jankovic said she felt a twinge in the match but it didn’t bother her until after she cooled down and began to feel pain in her foot.

“The next morning I woke up and foot swelled up … and I couldn’t step on it,” Jankovic said. “Yesterday I took a day off. I didn’t train. I thought it would settle down and get better.”

That didn’t happen, so Jankovic will be getting an MRI on the foot Friday to find out what is going on.

“I cannot play in this way, to do all the pounding and jumping. It will make it worse and who knows how long to recover,” she said.

The injury was on the ball of the foot. Jankovic, limping slightly, said it is painful to walk and she was forced to put pressure on the side of her foot.

“I really looked forward to playing against Danka. She’s a young player and I’m her idol. Just being with her on the court would be very special. It’s sad that I wasn’t able to come out and perform. It’s never nice to end a tournament this way,” said Jankovic, who said she has seldom had to retire from a tournament.

Jankovic, 30, said she loves playing in Charleston and felt like the spectators deserved an apology. Many of them were unaware of her injury and wished her “good luck” as she rode to an interview session to talk about the injury.

“People are coming out to watch, and it’s a shame. I would be disappointed, too, if I bought tickets to watch someone that I like to play and it’s a nice match. So that’s the least I could do,” Jankovic said.

“This just happened out of the blue. I really don’t understand why it happened and how it happened. It’s really unfortunate. There are some things you can’t control. I did not feel tired. I felt fresh. I felt excited to be competing. It’s my first tournament on clay and I love playing here. “I’m at the stage of my career where I cannot risk and I have to take care of my body and my health.”

Attendance at the 2015 Family Circle Cup continues to be solid, although slightly below 2014. The attendance total through Thursday’s day matches was 50,257 as compared to 51,904 at the same time in 2014. Last year’s tournament drew a total of 87,997.

The tournament record since the event moved from Hilton Head to Charleston was 95,767 in 2010.

There will be a ball toss after Friday’s first night match with some fan winning a GoPro camera. Fans can double their odds of winning by visiting sponsor SunTrust’s display until 7 p.m.

ESPN2 will carry the matches live Friday from 1-2:30 p.m. and from 1-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. All singles matches are streamed live on ESPN3.

Kids under 15 are admitted free to the Family Circle Cup all week with an accompanying adult.