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Venus, Serena Wiliams lead U.S. Olympic tennis team

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Venus Williams is headed to her record fifth Olympics, and Serena Williams to her fourth.

The sisters who have combined to win two Olympic singles titles and three Olympic doubles titles lead 12 U.S. players on a provisional International Tennis Federation field list for Rio published Thursday.

Their presence is no surprise. ATP and WTA rankings from June 6 determined the makeup of the Olympic field. Serena is currently ranked No. 1. Venus is at No. 8.

The U.S. women’s singles players on the provisional list were confirmed as Rio Olympians by the USTA, while the men are not official yet.

Women’s Singles
Serena Williams (also doubles)
Venus Williams (also doubles)
Madison Keys
Sloane Stephens

Men’s Singles
Jack Sock (also doubles)
Steve Johnson (also doubles)
Denis Kudla
Brian Baker

Women’s Doubles
Bethanie Mattek-Sands/CoCo Vandeweghe

Men’s Doubles
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan

Mixed doubles entries will be decided later, perhaps not until the Games in August.

Since tennis returned to the Olympic program after a 64-year break in 1988, only one Olympic singles player has been older than Venus will be in August (Jonas Bjorkman, also 36, at Beijing 2008), according to sports-reference.com.

Nobody has previously played in five Olympic singles tournaments. Venus and Roger Federer will both hit their fifth in Rio.

Venus and Serena are attempting to extend their shared record of four Olympic tennis gold medals and, with one medal in Rio, match the Olympic record for overall tennis medals held by 1920s British player Kitty McKane.

Justin Schoenefeld gets U.S.’ first men’s aerials World Cup win in 4 years

Justin Schoenefeld
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Justin Schoenefeld ended a four-year U.S. men’s aerials drought with his first World Cup win Saturday in Belarus.

Schoenfeld, 21, hit a double full-full-full in the super final to beat a field that included world champion Maxim Burov of Russia. Burov was fourth, one spot behind another American, Chris Lillis. Full results are here.

“I’m pretty speechless right now,” Schoenefeld said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I’m just shocked. It just all came so quick, all of a sudden the two finals were over, and I was on top of the podium. I probably landed two of my training jumps yesterday, but I managed to land all of my comp jumps down to my feet.”

Schoenefeld’s best previous World Cup finish was fourth, in Belarus last season.

Lillis earned the U.S.’ last World Cup men’s aerials victory on Feb. 20, 2016, also in Belarus. The four-year gap between wins marked the longest for the U.S. men since aerials was added as an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Schoenefeld also became the first American of either gender to win a World Cup aerials event in two years, since Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018. That gap was the longest for the U.S. since 2005.

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MORE: Olympic aerials champion retires to coach

Kaillie Humphries wins bobsled world title in first season for U.S.

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Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries won a bobsled world title in her first season since switching allegiance from Canada to the U.S., ending recent German dominance.

Humphries, with brakewoman Lauren Gibbs, edged German junior world champ Kim Kalicki by .37 of a second combining times from four runs between Friday and Saturday in Altenberg, Germany.

“I love this track. It’s very challenging, one of the hardest in the world,” Humphries said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “It demands a lot of focus, a lot of respect every minute you’re on that track. So to be able to win here, I know the Germans and the spectators, everybody, have worked so hard and this week, no exceptions. I’m proud of all of the girls.”

Canadian Christine de Bruin took bronze for a second straight year. Full results are here.

Humphries, who married a former U.S. bobsledder, was released by Canada in September after filing verbal abuse and harassment claims against a coach, saying she no longer felt safe with the program. As a Canadian, Humphries won 2010 and 2014 Olympic titles, plus 2012 and 2013 World titles.

Humphries joined German Sandra Kiriasis as the only female drivers to win three world titles. She is already the only female driver with multiple Olympic titles.

German Mariama Jamanka, the reigning Olympic champion and defending world champion, finished fourth in Altenberg.

Triple U.S. Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor didn’t compete as she sits out the season due to pregnancy. Meyers Taylor and Gibbs teamed for silver in PyeongChang.

The world championships continue Sunday with the conclusion of the two-man competition. German Francesco Friedrich, eyeing his sixth straight world title, leads after the first two of four runs.

A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

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