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Maria Sharapova withdraws from French Open

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Two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova pulled out of the year’s second Grand Slam tournament on Tuesday because of her surgically repaired right shoulder.

Sharapova announced her withdrawal on Instagram.

“Sometimes the right decisions aren’t always the easiest ones,” she wrote.

She said she has returned to practice and is “slowly building the strength back” in her shoulder.

The former No. 1 and owner of five major titles hasn’t competed anywhere since late January, when she withdrew from a tournament in Russia after winning her opening match there.

In February, she said she had a “small procedure” on her shoulder, which was painful since last year because of a fraying tendon and small labrum tear.

During a recent interview at the Italian Open, International Tennis Hall of Fame member Nick Bollettieri said Sharapova is at his academy “right now, training.”

Asked whether Sharapova is contemplating retirement, the coach responded: “Not yet. I think she’s going to give it one more shot.”

Play begins at the French Open on May 26. The 32-year-old Sharapova won the title at Roland Garros in 2012 to complete a career Grand Slam and collected the trophy at the clay-court major again in 2014.

That was the last time she won a Grand Slam tournament.

Since then, the Russian has been only an occasional participant in the sport’s four most prestigious events: This French Open will mark the eighth time in a span of 20 majors that she has been absent.

Sharapova was sidelined for 15 months by a doping suspension after failing a drug test at the Australian Open in January 2016, then returned to the tour in April 2017 with a ranking too low to get into Grand Slam events.

The French Open denied her a wild-card invitation, then she planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon before pulling out because of an injured left leg.

Her right shoulder has been an issue over the years.

She cut her 2018 season short in September because of problems with it.

Sharapova originally had surgery on the shoulder in 2008 and was off the tour for about 10 months. She skipped the 2013 U.S. Open because of that shoulder, too.

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David Boudia wins U.S. title, qualifies for worlds after break from diving

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David Boudia, after a year away from diving, two more children, a concussion and a goodbye to the platform, is back in familiar territory. He’s on the U.S. team for the world championships.

Boudia, a 30-year-old, four-time Olympic medalist, outscored fellow Rio Olympian Michael Hixon to win the springboard at the U.S. Championships on Saturday.

The top two per individual event by cumulative score at nationals go to July’s worlds in South Korea. Boudia was in third place going into the finals but had the top Saturday score by 23.35 to leap onto the team with Hixon.

“It’s relieving, but in my mind, as an athlete, there’s a lot of work to be done before 2020,” Boudia said on NBCSN. “I have to learn new dives if I want to contend with the best in the world.”

Later Saturday, Rio Olympian Amy Cozad Magaña and Delaney Schnell made the world team in the women’s platform, with Schnell helping knock out Rio Olympian Jessica Parratto. Competition concludes Sunday with the women’s springboard and men’s platform.

Boudia, whose 72 career Olympic dives all came off the platform, switched to the more forgiving springboard after a February 2018 concussion.

He considered retiring after a third Olympics in Rio, where he earned synchro silver and individual bronze after an individual gold at London 2012. He even began a real-estate job in Indiana. But he announced a diving comeback in September 2017, saying he didn’t want to have any “what ifs” later in life.

Boudia then beat Hixon at the 2018 Winter Trials, proving he could master the new event. The other Rio Olympian on the springboard, Kristian Ipsen, has retired.

Boudia has competed at every Olympics and world championships since 2005, except in 2017 of course, and is the only U.S. diver to earn a medal in an individual Olympic event at either meet since 2009.

“I don’t think I have been that nervous since 2005,” Boudia said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five.”

Cozad Magaña, 28, placed seventh in synchro at the Rio Olympics and plans to retire after 2020. Schnell, 20, was sixth individually at the 2016 Olympic Trials and second at the 2017 world trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

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U.S. men’s rugby team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. men's rugby sevens team
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The U.S. became the first men’s rugby team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, clinching its spot Saturday during penultimate leg of this season’s World Series.

The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, mathematically secured a place in the top four of the World Series final standings by advancing out of pool play in London. The knockout rounds are Sunday, but a top-eight finish was all that was necessary for Olympic qualification.

Now the U.S. can focus on a goal it didn’t have at the start of the year: winning the nation’s first World Series season title. It entered London with a slim, three-point lead over Olympic champion Fiji, one that would be erased if Fiji and the U.S. advance to Sunday’s final and Fiji wins.

Regardless, the season champion will be decided at the 10th and final World Series stop in Paris next weekend.

The Americans held onto the standings lead despite being without two stars — two-time World Player of the Year Perry Baker and Danny Barrett — the last three World Series stops. Baker and Barrett returned from injuries for the London leg.

Four years ago, the U.S. needed to go to a continental qualifier to earn in its place in Rio. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in 2016, 92 years after the traditional 15-a-side rugby last appeared at the Games. The Americans ended up ninth in Brazil, missing the quarterfinals on a tiebreaker.

World powers Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa are in position to join the U.S. as Olympic qualifiers through the World Series.

Seven more nations will qualify via continental tournaments later this year and a last-chance event in June 2020. Japan received an automatic spot as host nation.

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