In the sports world we’ve turned the phrase “the Michael Jordan of…” into one of the most important labels of this century. Michael Phelps is certainly “the Michael Jordan of swimming,” and possibly Jordan’s biggest fan to boot.
On Monday the 18-time gold medalist finally met his idol during a Ryder Cup week taping of the Golf Channel’s “Feherty Live.”
“I froze. That’s the one person in the world who could do that to me,” Phelps told the Washington Post, while refusing to wash his hand ever again. “I literally have always looked up to him… he’s the greatest.”
The two legends of their respective sports had never met, but had been texting over the last few months and Phelps assumed hoped they’d run into each other during the Ryder Cup this weekend, so Phelps was surprised when Jordan came out from behind the curtain. The episode will air Wednesday.
“I’m truly honored and humbled that he’s looked at me as a motivational figure,” Jordan said.
The strange part is that an entire generation sees Phelps as a transcendent sports figure and also has no idea who Jordan is. But we digress: Jordan, ever the competitor, challenged Phelps to a game of golf, or basketball, or ping pong… billards maybe; really anything he already knows he’s better at than Phelps.
“Anytime he’s ready, I’m ready,” said Jordan, whose terrifying competitive nature would almost surely ruin their friendship. “Except getting in the pool. I cannot swim, so I am not getting in the pool.”
That’s why he’s the Michael Jordan of being Michael Jordan.
If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.
Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.
Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.
If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.
Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.
The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.
Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.
The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.
Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.
Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.
Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.
The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.