LONDON, Great Britian - French veteran Pauline Parmentier scored her first Wimbledon match win since 2011 in shocking style, rallying from the brink of defeat as former World No.1 Maria Sharapova was forced to retire, trailing, 4-6, 7-6(4), 5-0.
Sharapova hadn't won a main draw match at Wimbledon since 2015, when she reached the semifinals for the fifth time in her career, and was two points from victory on Tuesday before Parmentier ultimately advanced after two hours and 17 minutes on No.2 Court.
"I've had a history of a tendon in my left forearm flaring up," Sharapova explained after the match, the first from which she has retired at a Grand Slam tournament. "It happened today in the second set. It's very rare that I withdraw from a match in the middle of the match. That certainly means that it's painful."
Sharapova came to Wimbledon in what was just her second tournament since late January, when she withdrew from the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, and missed the first three Premier Mandatory tournaments of 2019 and Roland Garros due to a recurring shoulder injury.
She returned to the tour at the Mallorca Open, where she defeated rising Slovak youngster Viktoria Kuzmova and played fellow former No.1 and 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber tough over two sets.
"With the shoulder, I mean, it's something that I've had for a long time. I thought the last five months I handled well because I knew I was doing the right thing. I was struggling in the Australian, St. Petersburg. I was finishing a match, and I was just not looking at my match, feeling happy winning or playing well. I was just thinking what I was going to do later after, in a few weeks, for my shoulder."
Playing Parmentier for the first time, she took the first break of the match but the Frenchwoman, who won two WTA titles last year to spark a career renaissance, quickly broke back and kept the opening set on even footing until the Russian stepped in to break in the decisive 10th game.
Sharapova largely kept up that momentum in the second set, shaking off an opening service break to race out to a 5-2 lead.
Parmentier began her comeback as the Russian served for the match, getting the match back on serve after being two points from defeat. Winning four games in a row, the Frenchwoman earned two set points to level the match only for Sharapova to save both and force a tie-break.
Up 5-1 in the ensuing Sudden Death, Parmentier held off a late charge from Sharapova to force a third set on her third opportunity.
Sharapova served at 6-4, 5-3.
Parmentier broke and took the second set.
One way traffic from there...@PPauline86 defeats Sharapova 4-6, 7-6(4), 5-0 (ret.)
Maria hasn't won a match here in 4 years.#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/rp5YM3uFWe
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) July 2, 2019
As the final set got underway, the five-time Grand Slam champion called a medical timeout and received treatment on her left arm.
"I got myself to a good enough place to be part of this event, not be out of the draw. But it was obviously not the way that I wanted to perform here.
"I don't want to leave. Everyone has a job in this place. You guys have a job. Of course, I withdrew in the middle of the match. I rarely do that. I haven't given a press conference in a long time at a Grand Slam. I want to show up.
"I just saw a doctor, did a scan. Those things are not fun. I haven't seen my team yet. This is part of the job."
The 33-year-old only got stronger from there, dropping just six points as she raced out to a 5-0 lead before Sharapova opted not to continue.
In all, Parmentier struck an impressive 25 winners to 28 unforced errors and converted six of 12 break point opportunities as Sharapova ebbed, hitting 20 unforced errors in the final two sets.
Standing between Parmentier and a spot in the third round is No.30 seed and Spanish rival Carla Suárez Navarro, who defeated 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur in straight sets earlier in the day.