Venus, Serena Williams play tennis with Jamaican sprint stars

Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Yohan Blake, Warren Weir
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It’s unlikely that Venus and Serena Williams have ever played against a doubles team with four Olympic medals between them.

But that’s what happened in an impromptu exhibition at a Treasure Beach clinic in Jamaica on Saturday.

The Williams sisters, each with four Olympic gold medals (three doubles, one singles), faced off with Jamaican sprinters Yohan Blake and Warren Weir. Blake won three medals (two gold, one silver) and Weir won a 400m bronze at the 2012 Olympics.

There are no reports of the final score of their match, but it’s safe to assume how it played out. Here’s the Jamaica Observer‘s recap:

Among the spectators at yesterday’s clinic in St Elizabeth was former Prime Minister PJ Patterson and World Champion sprinter and Olympian Yohan Blake and fellow Olympian Warren Weir, who teamed up to take on the sisters after being egged on by spectators and their entourage.

Blake grew up watching tennis, but by his showing, which was nonetheless pleasing to the crowd, one could tell that his association with the game never went beyond the television set. The same could be said for 200-metre Olympic bronze medallist Weir. But it was for the fans, and it was fun.

Perhaps they’ll get together for a rematch on the track.

“I figure we can do a 100-meter dash,” Venus joked to Blake, according to the newspaper.


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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”