Allyson Felix
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Allyson Felix, her life at risk before C-section, urges lawmakers to hear her story

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Allyson Felix shared the story of the two most terrifying days of her life, revealing she had a severe case of preeclampsia that led to her emergency C-section childbirth at 32 weeks on Nov. 28.

Felix testified Thursday at the House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee hearing on overcoming racial disparities and social determinants in the maternal mortality crisis.

Her full testimony in text is here and via video is here.

“My doctors told me that not only was my baby at risk, but I was at risk, too,” said Felix, the most decorated female Olympic track and field athlete with nine medals and six golds. “All I cared about in that moment was my daughter surviving and didn’t fully understand my life was threatened, too. Mothers don’t die from childbirth, right? Not in 2019, not professional athletes, not at one of the best hospitals in the country, and certainly not to women who have a birthing plan and a birthing suite lined up. I thought maternal health was solely about fitness, resources and care. If that was true, then why was this happening to me? I was doing everything right. My husband arrived and our doctor told us I would need to be on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy, which meant staying in the hospital so I could be closely monitored, but not to worry because I was in good hands. The thought of staying in the bed for the next eight weeks was awful, but it would be OK because my baby would be okay. Just as we started settling into our new home, our doctor rushed back into the room and said things were actually getting worse. I had a severe case of preeclampsia, and if the doctors didn’t act fast, this could prove fatal. I called my family and asked them to fly in. I asked my doctor if he could wait until my family was here, he said that he would try, but no promises. Ten hours later, I was being taken in for an emergency C-section at 32 weeks. I kissed my husband goodbye not knowing what would happen next.”

Felix’s daughter, Camryn, was born — 3 pounds, 7 ounces — and spent her first month in the NICU. Camryn is healthy, growing and expected to accompany her mom to her first track meets later this season.

“I learned that my story was not so uncommon, there were others like me — just like me,” Felix said. “They faced death like me too, and as I started to talk to more of those women and hear about their experiences, I learned that black women are nearly four times more likely to die from childbirth than white mothers are in the United States and that we suffer severe complications twice as often.”

She urged the committee to provide women of color more support during their pregnancies, noting “racial bias within our healthcare system that is troubling and will be difficult to tackle.”

“Racial bias is difficult, because it’s not as easy to spot as outright racism, but examples can be just as devastating,” Felix said. “To me there is no more important issue than what we’re talking about today.”

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MORE: Allyson Felix: I stand with Caster Semenya

Maria Sharapova wraps up tennis career after nearly two decades, career Slam

Maria Sharapova
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Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement after a professional tennis career that includes five Grand Slam wins, 36 singles titles and an Olympic silver medal.

Sharapova was only 17 when she won her first major in 2004 at Wimbledon. She won the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before completing her career Grand Slam in the 2012 French Open. She won the French Open again in 2014.

After moving from Russia to Florida at age 9 to train at the Bollettieri Academy, she made her professional debut just after her 14th birthday in 2001. She graduated to top-level events and majors within two years and reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2003.

In 2004, she upset Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams at Wimbledon and beat Williams again at the Tour Championships.

By 2005, the 6-foot-2 player had claimed the top spot in the world rankings. She remained in the top five for most of the next four years before suffering an injury to her right shoulder that limited her tournament schedule in 2008 and 2009. By 2011, she had reclaimed her status as a top-five player and remained there until 2016.

Her career declined after a positive drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. The substance in question, meldonium, had been given by Russian doctors to many athletes.

An initial suspension of two years was reduced to 15 months, but she wasn’t able to get back to her previous form. She won one more tournament in 2017 and reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 French Open, but she fared poorly in sporadic appearances in 2019. Her last match was a loss to Donna Vekic in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

SEE: Sharapova discusses reduced ban on TODAY

Her meldonium suspension also cost her commercial sponsorships and her role as a UN Development Program ambassador, which she earned with her work to help survivors of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

She was involved in the Olympics as a silver medalist in 2012, losing to Williams in the final, and as one of the final torch bearers in the relay to the 2014 Olympics opening ceremony in her home country.

She’s also third on the all-time WTA earnings list behind Serena and Venus Williams, taking in more than $38m in her career on top of lucrative endorsement deals.

Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

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