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Lindsey Vonn: Women viewed as ‘second-rate’ on World Cup

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Lindsey Vonn, after hearing European ski officials criticize her bid to race men, said that women are viewed as “second-rate” and “the pony show” on the World Cup circuit.

“I think it’s important for women to have equal rights,” Vonn said in a video interview posted by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “Sometimes there is a line, but I think that we need to balance that as best we can. There are definitely instances where we aren’t equal to men. It’s not always fair. Definitely is a generalization that we are kind of second-rate on the World Cup. You know, we’re the pony show, and the men are the real race horses. So that’s always disappointing to hear, but I think there definitely is a discrepancy in the level. Men are definitely better than women, so that is true. Yeah, I think that in general those offensive comments, people should just keep them to themselves.”

Earlier this month, International Ski Federation (FIS) men’s race director Markus Waldner was quoted in Austrian media calling Vonn a “princess” seeking a spotlight in her bid to race men next year.

FIS is expected to rule in May on a U.S. Ski and Snowboard team proposal for Vonn to race men in November 2018 at Lake Louise, which holds men’s and women’s races annually on the World Cup tour. It’s Vonn’s most successful venue, where she has won 18 times in 41 starts.

“I would hope that I would be somewhere around 20th [place against the men],” Vonn said earlier this month, echoing her previously stated goal. “I know that they’re the next level, and I want to get to that next level. It’s that reason that I want to race with them. I’m not really trying to prove anything. I know they can beat me, but I want to see where I stand.”

In the Aftonbladet interview, Vonn denied suggestions that she wanted to race men as a publicity stunt.

“I have enough media. I don’t need to do this for a show,” she said. “It’s just for me, for my personal ambition because the men are the next level. I want to compare myself against them. I train with them all the time. It makes me ski better, and I want to see what it’s like to race with them in a regular World Cup competition. I don’t want do some exhibition. I don’t want to do a show. I want it to be a real race. It’s pretty disappointing to hear some of the negative comments I’ve gotten, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion.”

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MORE: Vonn, Shiffrin top Alpine season storylines

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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