Serena, the world number one singles player, called the doctor to Court One just after she and Venus had warmed up for their second round match against Kristina Barrois and Stephanie Voegele.
She broke down in tears as she consulted with the doctor and physio before the tournament referee and supervisor were called to court in a reflection of her status in the sport.
After a 15-minute delay, Serena served up four double faults in her first service game, wobbled on the baseline before Venus led her back to her chair by the hand.
Umpire Kader Nouni, having already come down from his chair to talk to the Americans, announced that Serena was retiring from the match through illness with the sisters trailing 3-0.
Later Tuesday, the WTA Tour said that Serena was suffering from “a viral illness”.