Serena Williams pulled out of a scheduled semi-final match against Na Li on Saturday, due to a low back injury allowing the defending French Open champion to reach the finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2012 in Roma, Foro Italico. Serena was riding a career best 17-match win streak on clay having won titles in Charleston and Madrid and was an imminent favorite to win the Rome tennis tournament for the second time in her career. In a press conference, Serena revealed she had “some problems with the lower back” earlier in the week which prompted her decision to withdraw.

Serena played an abbreviated match in the last round when local favorite Flavia Pennetta retired while Serena was ahead 4-0 in the first set. Earlier in the week, Dominika Cibulkova advanced to the quarterfinals when world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka withdrew from the tournament. Read below for the rest of Serena’s press conference after her withdrawal.

Q: What are you thinking about all of the things that are coming up in next months?

WILLIAMS: There is a huge schedule coming up and when a little pain you can’t…. you just want to compensate and I have had a long treatment for the last couple months …….. and so I just want to relax and get ready for next few months. I had a really great time ……

Q: You suffered an injury and had to pull out in Cincinnati. Is this similar to that and is this going to affect your preparation for the French Open.

WILLIAMS: I feel fine. Its just with a lot coming up and this is a good week to get better and I’m confident that I’ll be 100%.

Q: Yesterday was quite a short match. If Flavia hadn’t retired and you had to play a full match would you have retired yesterday.

WILLIAMS: I would have played to see how I felt towards the end of the match and depends on how my back was doing towards the end of the match.

Q: Do you think this problem is related to the special conditions in Madrid?
WILLIAMS: Not at all. Its just life and playing a lot and the body is just getting used to playing a lot of matches and that’s all.

Q: On the injury side your form has been as spectacular. You could have equalled your best ever run if you had ever played today. How do you feel apart form that with the long slog ahead.

WILLIAMS: It feels good and I feel my form is good and hopefully I will be able to do good and stay in form and do well.

Q: Do you have plans for today and tomorrow here in Rome.

WILLIAMS: I love Rome and I might stay today and tomorrow. I mean, I meant to play – I mean to take a day or a couple of day off. I don’t have any plans. I don’t have any plans because my plans were to play tennis.