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Serena Williams rallies into Wimbledon semifinals

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Serena Williams is two wins from her 24th Grand Slam singles title, eighth at Wimbledon and first since becoming a mom.

Williams rallied past Italian Camila Giorgi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals on Tuesday.

“I feel like I’m back,” Williams said. “This is only my fourth tournament back, so I don’t feel pressure. I don’t feel like I have to win this. I still have a long way to go to be where I want.”

“Everything right now is a little bit of a surprise. To be here. To be in the semifinals. I mean, I always say I plan on it, I would like to be there, have these goals,” Williams said. “But when it actually happens, it still is, like, ‘Wow, this is really happening.’”

“It’s weird. Sometimes I feel, ‘Man, I’m in trouble.’ Sometimes I feel, ‘I can fight.’ For whatever reason, today I was so calm. Even when I was down the first set, I thought, ‘Well, she’s playing great. I’m doing a lot of the right things.’”

Giorgi, ranked No. 52 in the world, stood up to Williams’ power game in the first set as DrakeJustin TimberlakeJessica Biel and U.S. Olympic 400m hurdles runner Sydney McLaughlin looked on at Centre Court. She snapped Williams’ streak of 20 straight sets won at Wimbledon since she lost an opener to countrywoman Christina McHale in the second round in 2016.

Williams, ranked No. 181 due to a maternity-leave absence and seeded 25th at Wimbledon, broke Giorgi early in the second and third sets to reach Thursday’s semifinals. She will play No. 13 Julia Görges of Germany, a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner over No. 20 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the quarters.

It’s a golden opportunity for Williams, with no top-10 women’s seeds making the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in the 50-year Open Era.

The other semifinal pits 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open winner Angelique Kerber of Germany against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

The No. 11 seed Kerber beat No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3, 7-5 to make her third Wimbledon semifinal. The No. 12 seed Ostapenko ousted unseeded Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-5 to reach her first Wimbledon semi.

Wimbledon continues Wednesday with the men’s quarterfinals:

No. 1 Roger Federer vs. No. 8 Kevin Anderson
No. 9 John Isner vs. No. 13 Milos Raonic
No. 12 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 24 Kei Nishikori
No. 2 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro

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April Ross, Alix Klineman get early Olympic beach volleyball qualifying boost

April Ross, Alix Klineman
FIVB World Tour
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The U.S. Olympic qualifying chase in women’s beach volleyball figures to be among the most dramatic for the Tokyo Games.

Take last week’s Yangzhou Open, the biggest tournament so far in an Olympic qualification window that runs into June 2020.

April Ross, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and 2017 World silver medalist, and new partner Alix Klineman won the FIVB World Tour event in China, sweeping Brazilians Ana Patricia and Rebecca 21-19, 21-16 in Sunday’s final.

“Almost didnt get into China bc didnt realize visa was in my old passport, heroes helped, figured out a way,” was tweeted from Ross’ account. “We played terribly in pool, enlisted more help, believed. Called on more help to prepare for unknown teams, fought hard, won.”

The other top U.S. team from last season, Sara Hughes and Summer Ross, rallied for bronze in Yangzhou, 16-21, 23-21, 15-5 over Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes.

Those medal matches came after April Ross and Klineman eliminated triple Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and Kelly Claes in the round of 16. Ross and Walsh Jennings earned bronze together at the Rio Games, then split last year.

Walsh Jennings’ partner for an Olympic run is not Claes but Brooke Sweat, which slightly lessened the impact of the Yangzhou defeat.

Walsh Jennings, a 40-year-old mother of three looking to become the oldest Olympic beach volleyball player, and Sweat will play for the first time in this week’s FIVB World Tour event in Las Vegas, which doubles as a stop on Walsh Jennings’ new p1440 circuit. The event has the same amount of Olympic qualifying points as Yangzhou.

No more than two pairs per gender per nation can qualify for the Olympics, adding results from the next 18 months of international competitions.

That means at least one of Ross/Klineman, Hughes/Ross and Walsh Jennings/Sweat will not make Tokyo.

MORE: U.S. women’s volleyball has worst global result in 12 years

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U.S. women’s volleyball team exits world champs before medal round

U.S. women's volleyball team
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The U.S. women’s volleyball team didn’t get to play for a medal of any color in its world championship title defense.

The Americans were bounced in the penultimate, six-team round with five-set losses to China and the Netherlands. China, the Netherlands, Italy and Serbia will play for the medals later this week.

The U.S., which won its first major tournament title of any kind at the last worlds in 2014, squandered a two-set lead 30-32, 15-25, 25-22, 25-15, 15-9 to the Dutch on Monday in Nagoya.

“Ultimately the result is very disappointing,” U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said, according to USA Volleyball. “They made some changes and we wasted chances in the third set. You have to be good at converting those chances against a team like the Netherlands.”

The U.S. came into the tournament as No. 2 in the world in the most recent rankings from August 2017, trailing only Rio Olympic champion China. It had also won the other global event of 2018, the first Nations League, in the spring and early summer.

At worlds, the Americans won their first seven matches before trouble in the second round last week. They lost back-to-back matches to China (a sweep) and Italy to limp into the third round, where they lost to China again and the Netherlands on back-to-back days.

The fifth- or sixth-place finish will be the U.S.’ lowest result at an Olympics, world champs or World Cup since 2006. It earned medals at each of the last three Olympics but has never taken Olympic gold.

MORE: U.S. men’s volleyball team ends world champs medal drought

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