Venus Williams’ Miami Open match interrupted by unlikely court invader that steals show | Tennis | Sport

A cat stole the show by interrupting Venus Williams’ match against Diana Shnaider in the first round of the Miami Open. Williams, who received a wildcard into the main draw, ended up falling to a straight-sets defeat in spite of her best efforts.

The 43-year-old was appearing in the first round of the Miami Open for the 22nd time but saw her campaign cut short by Shnaider, who secured a routine victory in one hour and 19 minutes. Williams made her opponent work hard in spite of the result, displaying some vintage ball-striking and showing flashes of her quality at times.

During the second set, play was temporarily halted when a cat wandered onto the court just as Williams was preparing to serve. It sparked a collective gasp from the Miami crowd, with tennis legend Martina Navratilova among those clearly amused by the feline invader’s appearance.

In her commentary role on the Tennis Channel, Navratilova said: “Oh look, there’s the cat! It was a cat. A cute cat, too, look at it. I have not seen that before. Such a big place for a cat to get lost, the parking lot is pretty wide. Catch that cat and give it a good home. It’s a cute cat.”

It did not mark the first time that a high-profile tennis event had been interrupted due to a cat running onto the court. Emma Raducanu was distracted by a rogue feline before her recent meeting with Ons Jabeur in Abu Dhabi, with the Brit pointing and laughing while at the net before the match.

In 2018, a brave cat was nearly hit by a ball when it scurried across the court during a doubles match at the Rome Open. It did not look at all bothered by the incident and promptly left the scene, with a number of fans in the audience left in fits of laughter.

The latest disruption in Miami only resulted in a brief stoppage, with the match resuming swiftly after the cat had left the court. Williams went on to suffer a surprise defeat at the hands of Shanider despite playing some of her best tennis early in both sets.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion was playing in only her second tournament of the year following a seven-month layoff due to a long-term knee injury. She fell in the first round of Indian Wells to Nao Hibino two weeks ago and has not won a match since defeating Veronika Kudermetova in Cincinatti last August.

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