Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova
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Serena Williams lauds Maria Sharapova for owning up to failed drug test

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NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams says Maria Sharapova “showed a lot of courage” in taking responsibility for her failed drug test.

On Monday, the Russian star revealed she tested positive the day she lost to Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January. At a news conference Tuesday to promote an exhibition at Madison Square Garden, Williams didn’t want to talk about the fact she had faced an opponent with a banned substance in her system.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion said that like the rest of the sports world, she was “surprised and shocked” to hear the news about Sharapova.

“I think most people were happy she was upfront and very honest and showed a lot of courage to admit to what she had done and what she had neglected to look at in terms of the list at the end of the year,” Williams said.

Sharapova announced she tested positive for meldonium, a blood flow-promoting drug she said she had been taking for 10 years for various health issues. Meldonium was banned because it aids oxygen uptake and endurance, and players were notified of the changes in the WADA banned substances list in December. Sharapova claimed she simply neglected to click on the link.

She could face a long ban from the International Tennis Federation, possibly ending her season and preventing her from competing at the Olympics.

“It’s just taking responsibility, which she admitted that she was willing to do and ready to do,” Williams said. “Just hope for the best for everybody in that situation.”

Sharapova and Williams have had some barbed words for each other in the past off the court, but on Tuesday, Williams was fully supportive. While Sharapova is one of her biggest rivals based on the Russian’s results and five major titles, Williams has dominated the head-to-head series, winning the last 18 meetings over more than a decade.

“As Maria said, she’s ready to take full responsibility,” Williams said. “She showed a lot of courage and a lot of heart. I think she’s always shown courage and heart in everything she’s done, and this is no different.”

A fellow Nike endorser, Williams declined to comment on the shoe company’s decision to suspend its relationship with Sharapova.

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Caroline Wozniacki, who faces Williams in the exhibition Tuesday night, agreed with her good friend’s assessment of Sharapova’s announcement. Wozniacki acknowledged, though, the lengths elite athletes typically go through to ensure they don’t accidentally ingest banned substances.

“Any time we take any medication, we double, triple and quadruple check, because sometimes even things like cough drops or nasal sprays can be on the list,” Wozniacki said. “I think as athletes we always make sure to really make sure there’s nothing in it.”

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin, who was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Tuesday, said many questions needed to be answered before she could judge Sharapova’s case.

“I think we’re all a little bit sad and disappointed about the situation,” she said on a conference call. “It’s never good for the game.”

Marat Safin, who on Tuesday became the first Russian elected to the Tennis Hall, agreed, noting that it’s not uncommon for players to miss that a substance has been added to the banned list. He said he believed that Sharapova did not intend to cheat, but then quickly added: “I want to believe so.”

MORE: More Russians test positive for meldonium

Anna van der Breggen is first cyclist to sweep road world titles in 25 years

Anna van der Breggen
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Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen added the road race crown to her time trial victory at the world road cycling championships, becoming the second rider in history to win both events at the same edition.

“This is, for me, pretty good so far,” she said.

Van der Breggen, the Rio Olympic road race champion, won after a solo attack with more than 25 miles left of an 89-mile course in Imola, Italy, on Saturday.

She prevailed after more than four hours of racing by 80 seconds over countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, the 2019 champion. Van Vleuten raced nine days after breaking her left wrist in a Giro Rosa crash.

Italian Elisa Longo Borghini took bronze in the same time as van Vleuten after losing a photo-finish sprint. Lauren Stephens was the top American in 11th.

Full results are here.

The race lacked American standout Chloé Dygert, who crashed out of the time trial while leading on Thursday and required leg surgery.

Van der Breggen joined Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo as the only male or female cyclists to sweep the time trial and road race at a single worlds. Longo did so in 1995 at age 36.

Van der Breggen, 30, said in May that she will retire after the 2021 Olympic season.

It will be the end of one of the great cycling careers. She is now a three-time world champion and nine-time world medalist to go along with her road race gold and time trial bronze in her Olympic debut in Rio.

Worlds conclude Sunday with the men’s road race. A TV and stream schedule is here.

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MORE: A more equal future for women’s cycling? Lizzie Deignan has high hopes

2020 French Open TV, live stream schedule

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Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams can each tie Grand Slam singles titles records at the French Open, with daily live coverage among NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel.

NBC coverage starts Sunday with first-round action at Roland Garros, its 38th straight year covering the event. Tennis Channel airs the majority of weekday coverage. Peacock, NBC Universal’s new streaming service, has middle weekend broadcasts.

All NBC TV coverage alo streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Nadal is the primary men’s storyline, favored to tie Roger Federer‘s male record of 20 major titles and extend his own record of 12 French Open crowns. Federer is absent after knee operations earlier this year.

The Spaniard’s primary competition is top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champion whose only defeat in 2020 was a U.S. Open default for hitting a ball that struck a linesperson in the throat.

Williams bids again to match the overall Grand Slam singles mark of 24 held by Australian Margaret Court. Williams, a three-time French Open champion, lost in the third and fourth round the last two years and is coming off a U.S. Open semifinal exit.

The women’s field is led by 2018 champion Simona Halep but 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.

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MORE: How Jay-Z, Beyonce helped Naomi Osaka come out of her shell

French Open TV Schedule

Date Time (ET) Network Round
Sunday, Sept. 27 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
12-3 p.m. NBC
Monday, Sept. 28 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Tuesday, Sept. 29 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Wednesday, Sept. 30 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Thursday, Oct. 1 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Friday, Oct. 2 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
Saturday, Oct. 3 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Sunday, Oct. 4 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Monday, Oct. 5 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Tuesday, Oct. 6 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Wednesday, Oct. 7 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Thursday, Oct. 8 5 a.m.-2 p.m. Tennis Channel Women’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Friday, Oct. 9 5 a.m.-4 p.m. Tennis Channel Men’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Saturday, Oct. 10 9 a.m. NBC Women’s Final
Sunday, Oct. 11 9 a.m. NBC Men’s Final