It’ll be a while before we see how the Olympics will fully impact the British economy, be it for good or bad, but the U.K.’s cycling dominance this summer is already yielding returns for the sport.
The London School of Economics published a dry, but insightful report titled “The Olympic Cycling Effect” where smart people surveyed 1,000 British citizens before and after the Games about their interest and involvement in cycling.
Apparently 12 medals, including eight golds by the likes of superstars Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy, didn’t hurt. Fifty-two percent of respondents said those two, along with ladies Laura Trott and Sarah Storey, had inspired them to start riding. Also impressive: the number of Brits who consider themselves “frequent cyclists” jumped from 28 percent before the Games to 66 percent following, while 71 percent of respondents were inspired to buy cycling gear and accessories, and 40 percent said they were interested in attending an event at the Velodrome as a live spectator.
Here in the States we’ve seen a similar growth in the passion for women’s soccer, where significant victories (two World Cups and four gold medals since 1991) have inspired American athletes like Alex Morgan to dream about — and eventually achieve — the same success as their heroes.
Sometimes the effect is short-lived, but if Morgan’s shiny new gold medal is any indication, the Brits should have no problem dominating cycling, both on the track and on the road, for years to come.
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.