Serena, Venus Williams set up U.S. Open sisters showdown

Getty Images

NEW YORK — Serena and Venus Williams will play in the U.S. Open third round, their earliest Grand Slam meeting since their first at the 1998 Australian Open.

“I wouldn’t say it’s exciting,” Serena said. “We would rather have met later [in the tournament]. … Normally I would say cheer for me, but whoever you’re feeling like, me or Venus, either one will work.”

Serena ensured the sisters’ 30th career match Friday by beating German Carina Witthöft 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday night. Six hours earlier, Venus swept Italian Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 on another sweltering day in Queens.

“I never root against her, no matter what,” Serena said. “When you always want someone to win, to have to beat them. I know the same thing is for her. When she beats me, she always roots for me as well.”

Serena leads the head-to-head 17-12, winning eight of the last 10. Venus took the most recent, 6-3, 6-4 at Indian Wells in March, Serena’s first WTA event since having daughter Olympia on Sept. 1.

They also played in Serena’s last match before her maternity leave. Serena won the 2017 Australian Open final 6-4, 6-4 while eight weeks pregnant.

“It was two against one,” Venus joked Wednesday. “At least this time it’ll be fair.”

The two women with 30 combined Grand Slam singles titles are playing so early here because of Serena’s maternity leave. Her ranking was not protected for the absence, which meant Serena was No. 26 going into the U.S. Open even with making the Wimbledon final last month.

Venus is ranked 16th, and Serena received a seeding bump from tournament organizers to No. 17. They were randomly drawn into the same section of the top half of the draw and now meet in the round of 32.

“It’s really interesting to play someone that knows [you],” Serena said. “You have to almost become a different player, which is another challenge, as well. I think that’s also something that helps her.”

U.S. OPEN: Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

Venus faced a tougher road to their 16th matchup at a Slam and sixth at the U.S. Open.

She needed three sets to outlast 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round. Giorgi, at No. 40, is the highest-ranked player either Williams has faced so far.

Venus, 38, is also playing to make the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time this year after doing so at all four majors in a resurgent 2017. She finished the year ranked No. 5 but has since dropped to No. 16.

The Williams-Williams winner would have been due to play No. 1 SImona Halep in the fourth round, but Halep became the first women’s top seed to lose in the U.S. Open first round in the 51-year Open Era.

Instead, Serena or Venus will play either Estonian Kaia Kanepi or Swede Rebecca Peterson in the round of 16.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Serena Williams OK with French Open despite catsuit ban

U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics

Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024

The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!