Simone Biles
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Simone Biles opens Olympic year with changes at Pacific Rim Championships

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She’s done “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” thing. The “Vogue” thing. The “get a massive shipment from Coca-Cola and Instagram it because it’s cool to be 19 and a professional athlete” thing.

Now, Simone Biles gets a chance to go out and do her thing — which she does better than any gymnast on the planet.

The three-time World all-around champion makes her 2016 debut on Saturday at the Pacific Rim Championships (NBC Sports Live Extra, 10 p.m.-midnight ET), a team competition in reality but a showcase for Biles in spirit and — she hopes — a springboard to Olympic gold.

Not that she wants to talk about it or anything.

“It stresses me out thinking about the Olympics, so why stress yourself out?” Biles said. “I just think of what’s next to come.”

This weekend includes unveiling a new floor routine and an upgraded second vault designed to make it that much harder for the rest of the world to catch her in Rio de Janeiro in August. Of course, Biles demurs when asked to discuss her chances of making history in Brazil. Last she checked, the U.S. team won’t be named for another three months, and she’s not taking anything for granted no matter how high she soars.

Imagine Usain Bolt saying that.

And in a very real sense the relentlessly dynamic teenager from the Houston suburbs has spent the quadrennium since the London Games serving as her sport’s version of Bolt, collecting a record 14 World Championships medals and doing it using a formula that seems borderline unfair. Biles doesn’t just put together the hardest routines. She executes them better than contemporaries doing challenging but slightly less difficult sets.

“I think she needs to compete with the men to make it fair,” 1984 Olympic champion Mary Lou Retton said.

Retton is kidding, but only a little. Biles doesn’t just win, she typically dominates. There have been few close calls during a winning streak that started with her first national championship in 2013 and she heads to floor of the XFINITY Arena in Everett, Wash., rested after a five-month break, part of a carefully calibrated plan for 2016 that will — barring injury — have Biles peaking by mid-summer.

Of course, Biles has been peaking for the better part of three years. It’s an incomparable run of success in a sport where windows of greatness are typically limited to months.

“I don’t think there’s anyone close,” Retton said.

Yet Biles refuses to play it safe. There’s a competitive restlessness to her that demands coach Aimee Boorman and national team coordinator Martha Karolyi find ways to keep her engaged. It’s why she’s debuting her third different floor routine in three years this weekend while throwing in a new secondary vault to go with an Amanar that is right there with two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney in “OMG” factor.

Named after three-time World champion Cheng Fei of China, the vault requires Biles to do a round off onto the board followed by a back handspring with a half-twist onto the vault before finishing with 1 1/2 twists while simultaneously doing a layout.

Sounds kind of impossible. Biles stressed she’s landed it “every single time” over the last few months but is curious to see how it will play under the lights, concerned about how far she’ll be bent over when she lands.

If the way drilled it during practice on Wednesday — powering down the runway and effortlessly twisting through the air — is any indication, she should be just fine.

If anything, getting back to competition will give her a sense of normalcy. She’s spent the downtime since her triumphant two weeks in Scotland last fall trying to find a balance between preparing for Rio, fulfilling sponsor obligations and trying to make time for herself.

Chasing gold while taking time to still be 19 can be tough, but it does have its perks. Her deal with Coke includes a stack of cases that combined would tower over her 4-foot-9 frame.

After another fistful of medals at worlds, Ellen DeGeneres finally called and asked Biles to stop by, an invitation Biles coveted for years. The spot included the two chatting about Biles’ 32-hour-a-week training, her crush on actor Zac Efron (with DeGeneres offering her an Efron-inspired leotard) and footage of Biles climbing up a 30-foot rope using only her arms with a speed that would make the most ardent Crossfitter blush. She finished it off with a watered down exhibition on the balance beam, the equivalent of LeBron James in a layup-line.

On Saturday night, however, it’s back to the one place she feels most at ease even as the spotlight grows brighter by the day.

“There’s a lot more eyes on me, but I don’t focus on the stress everyone puts on me,” she said. “I’m the only one that can control what happens when I go out there. I feel more confident in my routines, but there are always days in the gym where it’s a mess and I’m like really? But other days go smoothly and I feel confident. I’m normal. I’m 19.”

VIDEO: Biles on Ellen DeGeneres Show

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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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.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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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.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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