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Hope Solo: U.S. needs a goalkeeper, but I would need an answer

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NEW YORK — Hope Solo hasn’t retired — “It’s hard to retire when you got fired,” she repeated Tuesday, referencing her 2016-17 U.S. Soccer suspension and contract termination — but she also would not return to the U.S. national team under the current state.

“If Jill came to me today, Jill Ellis, the coach of the women’s team, and said, ‘Hope, we need a goalkeeper,’ — which they do — ‘can you come back and help us win the World Cup?’ I’d say to her, ‘Are you guys abiding by federal law?'” Solo said at the Hashtag Sports event in Manhattan. “That’s the only question I have to ask back and see what the answer is. We all know that they are not abiding by federal law, so I can not stand for that at this point.”

In January, Solo filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer with the U.S. Olympic Committee, accusing it of illegally favoring Major League Soccer. On Tuesday, she called the current labor agreement agreed to in April 2017 as “eye candy,” saying it yielded more pay for female players but fewer players on contract.

Solo, 36, has not played for club or country since she was suspended six months by U.S. Soccer in August 2016 after she called Sweden’s national team “a bunch of cowards” after beating the Americans in the Rio Olympic quarterfinals.

She was the No. 1 goalie for the U.S. at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics and 2007, 2011 and 2015 World Cups, taking two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup title and compiling 202 caps.

“If I didn’t have that World Cup victory, I’m not sure I could have ever left the game,” Solo said Tuesday. “I would have been back on the field at all costs. But I got my World Cup victory, and, for me as a young girl, more than the Olympics, that’s something I needed in my life, that I always wanted to accomplish. If I hadn’t had that, then I’m not sure I’d be happy with my career.”

Solo said she would “be perfectly happy out of the public eye” living on her 60 acres of North Carolina farmland with husband Jerramy Stevens. She was adamant that she would not run for U.S. Soccer president again, as she did unsuccessfully last winter.

Solo has said she has turned down offers to play overseas and would not return to the National Women’s Soccer League because it is run by U.S. Soccer.

“For me, competing means competing at the highest level,” said Solo, who in 2020 will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic soccer player. “That would be the World Cup. That would be the Olympics. And if I can’t play for my country, then it’s hard for me to go move to France and play professional league soccer when I want to play for my country. I want to play in World Cups and Olympics.

“If I went back and played club ball, it would be in Europe.”

And does she she herself ever doing that?

“I don’t shut out opportunities, so who knows,” Solo said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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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