Serena Williams’ history of U.S. Open episodes with umpires, lineswoman

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NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williamsdispute with the chair umpire during the 2018 U.S. Open final is the latest issue she’s had with match officials at the Grand Slam tournament.

Williams thought back to others while arguing in her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Naomi Osaka on Saturday, saying on court at one point: “This is not fair. This has happened to me too many times.”

When a reporter asked Williams whether her mind had flashed back to her infamous tirade over a foot fault in the final at Flushing Meadows nine years ago, she replied: “I think it’s just instantly, just like, ‘Oh, gosh, I don’t want to go back to 2004.’ Forget 2009, you know. It started way back then. So it’s always something.”

Here is a brief look back at those other U.S. Open episodes involving Williams, who has won six singles titles in New York:

THE WRONG CALL

Date: Sept. 7, 2004

Opponent: Jennifer Capriati

Round: Quarterfinals

Chair Umpire: Mariana Alves

Result: Capriati won 2-6, 6-4, 6-4

What happened: In the opening game of the third set, Williams hit a backhand that landed in — and was ruled in by a line judge — but Alves awarded the point to Capriati.

The fallout: This mistake was cited later when electronic line-calling was introduced to Grand Slam tennis.

What Williams said then: “I don’t need to see the replay. I know my shots. Not only was it in, it wasn’t even near the line. But I’m not making excuses. I didn’t lose because of that. I probably should have closed her out in the second set.”

THE FOOT FAULT

Opponent: Kim Clijsters

Round: Semifinals

Line judge: Shino Tsurubuchi

Result: Clijsters won 6-4, 7-5.

What happened: With Williams serving at 5-6, 15-30 in the second set, she faulted on her first serve. On the second serve, Tsurubuchi called a foot fault, making it a double-fault — a call rarely, if ever, seen at that stage of any match, let alone a major semifinal. That made the score 15-40, putting Clijsters one point from victory. Williams went over and shouted and cursed at Tsurubuchi, pointing at her. The line judge went over to chair umpire Louise Engzell, who assessed a penalty point, because it was Williams’ second code violation of the match (she broke her racket when the first set ended). That extra point for Clijsters ended the match.

The fallout: Williams was fined a record $82,500 and told she could be suspended from the U.S. Open and her fine doubled if she had another “major offense” at any Grand Slam tournament over the next two years.

What Williams said then: “I’ve never been in a fight in my whole life, so I don’t know why she would have felt threatened.”

THE HINDRANCE CALL

Date: Sept. 11, 2011

Opponent: Sam Stosur

Round: Final

Chair umpire: Eva Asderaki

Result: Stosur won 6-2, 6-3

What happened: Facing a break point at the start of the second set, Williams hit a forehand that she celebrated with a familiar cry of “Come on!” But she shouted as Stosur was still reaching for a backhand. Asderaki ruled the point wasn’t over and so awarded it to Stosur, saying Williams hindered her opponent’s ability to complete the exchange. Williams got broken in that game. She directed a series of insults at Asderaki, who issued a code violation for verbal abuse.

The fallout: Williams was fined $2,000 by the U.S. Open (she won $1.4 million at the tournament). But the Grand Slam committee ruled that what she did “did not rise to the level of a major offense” and so she didn’t face the additional disciplinary action that she could have been subject to after what happened in 2009.

What Williams said then: “You’re a hater, and you’re just unattractive inside,” to Asderaki.

MORE: Naomi Osaka’s popularity in Japan ahead of Tokyo Olympics

3×3 basketball players juggle jobs, schoolwork in lead-up to Tokyo

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Craig Moore might be the definition of a weekend warrior.

Moore has a full-time job in finance in New York City. But on weekends, he swaps out suits for a basketball uniform, traveling to 3×3 tournaments with his teammates in the hopes of ultimately representing the U.S. at the 2020 Tokyo Games. The International Olympic Committee announced that 3×3 would be added to the Olympic program in June 2017.

The addition of the event means athletes – who might not make a star-studded five-on-five roster packed with NBA or WNBA talent – have another shot at the Olympics in a dynamic, fast-paced game entirely its own.

Three-on-three games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

Moore played traditional five-on-five basketball in college for Northwestern University, then moved to Europe to compete in domestic leagues in the Netherlands and Romania. But the job uncertainty made Moore start to consider changing careers. “When you play in Europe, especially not at [the] Euroleague level, you’re kind of always just fishing,” he said. “You get discouraged sometimes…So I decided I should probably get a job.”

He worked in finance for a year, spent a season at Princeton as the director of operations for men’s basketball, then returned to the corporate world. On weekends, he started playing pick-up basketball.

At first, he said, the weekend tournaments were purely recreational. Then in 2014, Moore’s team won U.S. Nationals and played at the World Cup in Russia, where they finished 14th. In 2017, after winning Nationals again, Moore’s team finished seventh at the World Cup, knocked out in the quarterfinals by eventual champions Serbia. Once Moore and his teammates learned 3×3 would be part of the Olympics, “we’ve run with it ever since,” he said. “We’ve fallen in love with the travel, the games, the quick pace. We’ve gotten used to the rougher play.”

Olympic qualification is no simple feat, particularly for players not based in Europe, where many of the major tournaments are located. Eight teams per gender will play in Tokyo, and FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, has specific qualification requirements for both nations and individual athletes.

Players can earn points for themselves and their countries by partaking in FIBA-endorsed 3×3 competitions, and a ranking list of points in November 2019 will determine the first four countries to qualify for the Games. The rest will have to earn spots through two qualifying tournaments. The U.S. men are currently ranked seventh in the world, while the American women are 29th, with most of 2019 to improve their positions. USA Basketball is prioritizing increased participation in international tournaments this year so players can earn more points.

The qualification requirements mean athletes must devote a significant amount of time to 3×3-specific tournament play, making it unlikely that prominent NBA and WNBA stars will feature in 3×3 at the Games. Should the Americans qualify, a men’s team will likely be made up of athletes like Moore, who have played in college or professionally, or athletes finishing their G-league careers. A U.S. women’s team would likely include collegiate athletes.

Moore’s current team is made up of six players (though only four of those six go to each tournament, with three on court at once). Three live in New York, with one in Chicago, one in Seattle, and one in Los Angeles. Moore said they stay in touch through a group chat and hold each other accountable for squeezing in workouts so they’re ready to play. All have full-time jobs. Moore said some of his co-workers have taken an active interest in 3×3. “I get a lot of text messages after games, like, ‘great job,’” he said. Or sometimes, “you should’ve made that shot!”

Accumulating points through various tournaments means a hectic travel schedule: Moore said he spent 17 weekends on the road in 2018, sometimes taking a day off from work, other times getting off a red-eye flight and going straight to the office.

His love for the game – and the prospect of representing the U.S. at the Olympics – makes the time put in seem less daunting.

“Once you play it, you end up falling in love with it,” he said. “For former competitors who kind of lost the game a little bit, to get it back in any way, shape or form, is a really cool experience.”

Four athletes from the University of Oregon represented the U.S. women at last year’s World Cup, finishing fifth. Sabrina Ionescu, now a junior, was one of those players.

Ionescu is an All-America guard at Oregon. In December, she broke an NCAA record (for both men and women) with her 13th career triple-double, and now has 16. Her on-court statistics caught the attention of Stephen Curry, who met Ionescu after the Warriors played the Trail Blazers in December and called her “the walking triple dub” on social media.

Last year, the coaching staff at Oregon chose Ionescu and three teammates to enter the 3×3 U.S. Nationals in Colorado Springs. The group went into the tournament with no expectations, but ended up winning and earning a spot to represent the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in the Philippines.

Their performance at the World Cup was admittedly imperfect, not unexpected for their first international tournament. “[I had] never done anything like it,” Ionescu said. “At one point we’d gone into overtime, and we didn’t know what the overtime rules were…so we just played not knowing how long we would be playing for.”

Ionescu said what she’s learned in 3×3 “definitely helps translate to five-on-five games. Just having to make reads on the fly…[trusting] the teammates you’re with…You really have to do that in the flow of the game. You’re not looking at your coach to make all your moves for you.”

Ionescu hasn’t played in a major 3×3 tournament since the World Cup. While men’s 3×3 players have a multi-stop World Tour, no official series of tournaments has been offered to women. FIBA plans to launch a professional circuit for women in 2019, though the competition format is still being finalized.

While Ionescu is currently focused the collegiate season she’s in the midst of, an Olympic opportunity in 3×3 hasn’t left her mind: “it would definitely be a dream come true to represent my country on the highest stage, something that I dreamed about when I was younger.”

Yuzuru Hanyu wishes training partner Javier Fernandez luck at European Championships

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Two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu wished his training partner Javier Fernandez luck ahead of his attempt to win his seventh consecutive European Championship title.

In a video from the Olympic Channel, Hanyu said to Fernandez in part:

When the Olympic Games [were] over, and this season began, I realized how special it was to practice with you… I will never forget your performance. Thank you for allowing me to come to Toronto. I respect you forever. 

Fernandez shared the PyeongChang Olympic podium with Hanyu, winning bronze. Fernandez is a two-time world champion and has plans to retire following the European Championships. They trained together under Brian Orser in Toronto.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Minsk, Belarus starting Wednesday with the ladies’ short program.

MORE: How to watch the European Championships

As a reminder, you can watch the European Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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