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Elana Meyers Taylor takes slim early lead at bobsled worlds

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Elana Meyers Taylor is halfway to her second world bobsled title in three years, but two other Olympic medalists are within five hundredths of a second of her.

Meyers Taylor leads by .02 of a second over two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada after two of four runs in Koenigssee, Germany, on Friday.

U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Greubel Poser is third, .05 behind. Full results are here.

The final two runs are Saturday (9:15 and 10:45 a.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

“It’s a great place to be in, but it’s a close race,” Meyers Taylor said, according to U.S. Bobsled. “The field is getting bigger and bigger as we get closer to [the 2018 Olympics in South] Korea, and the competition is getting stiffer and stiffer. I think this is the closest world championships the women’s field has ever seen.”

In 2014, Meyers Taylor led the Olympics after each of the first three runs before being passed by Humphries in the fourth and final run by one tenth. She took silver after earning bronze as a push athlete at Vancouver 2010.

Meyers Taylor rebounded to win the world championships and World Cup titles in 2015, becoming the first U.S. female driver to win the world title. Last season, she was third at worlds after missing four World Cup races due to after-effects from a January 2015 concussion.

This season, Meyers Taylor carried a four-race World Cup winning streak into the world championships. She’s driving with second-year push athlete Kehri Jones in Koenigssee.

The world championships continue with the first two runs of two-man bobsled on Saturday (4:30 and 6 a.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

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World silver medalist opts out of figure skating Grand Prix

Elizabet Tursynbaeva
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Elizabet Tursynbayeva, the 2019 World silver medalist, said she will not compete in figure skating’s upcoming Grand Prix Series, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee.

Tursynbayeva noted in stating her decision that world ranking points will not be awarded in the series, which starts with Skate America from Oct. 23-25.

Fields for the six Grand Prix events, held on consecutive weekends through November, have not been released.

Skaters will be restricted to one Grand Prix start — halved from the usual two — and to the event in their home nations or closest to their training locations.

Tursynbayeva trains in Russia, one of six nations to host Grand Prix events.

Previously, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu announced he would not compete on the Grand Prix due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel risks.

Russian Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova, who announced an indefinite break from competition last December, is also not expected to compete. She is hosting a Russian skating-themed TV show but has not announced her future competition plans.

Tursynbayeva took silver behind Zagitova at the most recent world championships in 2019, a surprise given her 12th-place finish at the PyeongChang Olympics. Tursynbayeva withdrew before her 2019 Grand Prix events, reportedly after suffering an injury.

Last season’s top skaters were all first-year seniors — Russians Alena Kostornaya, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. The world championships were not held due to the pandemic.

Two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

MORE: Orser reacts to Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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Serena Williams battles, then rolls into French Open second round

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Serena Williams overcame early struggles, sweeping past countrywoman Kristie Ahn 7-6 (2), 6-0 to reach the French Open second round.

Williams, again eyeing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, started out like somebody who went 16 months between clay-court matches. She needed 74 minutes to take the first set from the 102nd-ranked Ahn, recovering twice after having her serve broken.

She dominated the second set in 27 minutes, advancing to play Bulgarian and fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova, a rematch of their three-set U.S. Open quarterfinal three weeks ago.

Williams, in long sleeves and tights, had 15 winners to 28 unforced errors in the first set in cloudy, sub-60-degree weather on Monday.

“I hate the cold. I’m from L.A. and I live in Florida,” Williams said before the tournament, which was postponed from its usual May/June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic. “For half my life I’ve never seen snow. Cold weather and me do not mix.”

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Williams also noted before the tournament that she was “not at 100 percent physically” and spent most of her time in France “rehabbing” without giving specifics. She took a medical timeout with a left Achilles injury in her last match, a U.S. Open semifinal loss to Victoria Azarenka,

“I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think I could perform,” Williams said Saturday. “I don’t know any athlete that ever plays physically when they’re feeling perfect. That’s just something I think as athletes we have to play with.”

Earlier Monday, newly crowned U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem rolled 2014 U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, next gets American Jack Sock, a former top-10 player now ranked No. 310. Sock took out countryman Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 for his first main draw win at the French Open in four years.

Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a record-extending 13th French Open title and male record-tying 20th Grand Slam singles title later Monday.

The French Open first round concludes Tuesday with top-ranked Novak Djokovic in action.

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