Jul 22, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings withdrew from this week’s Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., with an ab strain, but she will still play this weekend at the site’s World Series Cup event.
Walsh, 34, who gave birth to her third child, daughter Scout, in April, said she felt the injury coming on after her first match since the London Olympics.
She debuted with new partner and Olympic silver medalist April Ross at an FIVB event in Gstaad, Switzerland, two weeks ago. They were eliminated before the quarterfinals after going 3-0 in pool play.
“Every day my abs on the right side started to get tighter and tighter and tighter,” Walsh Jennings said in a phone interview Monday before going out to test her abs for the first time since July 12. “By the end of the second day, I said ‘Oh, I’ve got to get it worked on.’ I had no power. I couldn’t reach anything overhead.”
Walsh Jennings spoke to doctors, who were confident she didn’t tear any muscles but suffered a significant strain.
“When I play, I want to go out and win,” Walsh Jennings said. “I didn’t want to come back premature and out of shape and just play to play. I have too much respect for the game to do that.”
So Walsh will take the extra few days between now and the World Series Cup, which she likened to golf’s Ryder Cup, to get back to full strength.
The World Series Cup will pit a U.S. team against a U.S. team and an international team against an international team on Saturday in Long Beach. The winners of those two matches will play a final Sunday, separate from the FIVB Grand Slam event.
Walsh Jennings will partner with Whitney Pavlik. They’ll play the Olympic silver medal pair of Ross and Jennifer Kessy in one semifinal. The international semifinal will include the recently crowned world champions, Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China.
Walsh Jennings said Ross and Kessy will finish out the season together before she and Ross become permanent partners. Walsh Jennings and Pavlik will next play an AVP Tour event in Salt Lake City on Aug. 17-18.
The World Series of Beach Volleyball is the first FIVB Grand Slam event to be played in the U.S. in 10 years. Complete information on the event can be found at WSOBV.com.
NBC, NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports will have coverage beginning Thursday and through the weekend. Full listings here.
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