Serena Williams stunned by Sofia Kenin at French Open

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Serena Williams lost to a younger American in their first match together for the first time in her two-decade career. Sofia Kenin, a 20-year-old born in Moscow and raised in Florida, upset the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open third round.

“In that first set in particular, she hit pretty much inches from the line, and I haven’t played anyone like that in a long time,” Williams said. “She just played literally unbelievable.”

Williams dropped to 34-3 all-time against younger Americans (h/t @BenRothenberg). Kenin joins Sloane Stephens and Madison Brengle as the slayers, but Stephens and Brengle needed three sets to do it in second career meetings with the legend.

“It’s a lot of emotions,” said Kenin, who saw her father and longtime coach in the stands filming her on-court interview with a smartphone. “Serena’s such a great player and a true champion, so all respect for her.”

It’s the end of an up-and-down tournament for Williams, who said she debated daily last week whether to withdraw. The 37-year-old pulled out of her previous three tournaments with health problems, citing a left knee injury at the last two.

Then she had to rally past her 83-ranked first-round foe, Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, 2-6, 6-1, 6-0. Though Williams swept Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara in round two, she would lose seven straight games to Kenin between the first and second sets on Saturday. It’s her earliest Grand Slam loss since 2014 Wimbledon.

Williams said after Saturday’s loss that she wasn’t fully match fit. She hopes she’ll be in optimal shape by Wimbledon in a month.

“I’m just pretty far away, but that’s the optimistic part is I haven’t been able to be on the court as much as I would have,” she said. “It’s just been a really grueling season for me.”

Kenin proved herself after needing three sets to get past an Italian qualifier in round one, then receiving a walkover against injured Canadian Bianca Andreescu in the second round.

Kenin, ranked No. 35, is into the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in nine tries. No. 8 Ashleigh Barty awaits.

Williams made her Grand Slam return from childbirth in Paris last year, reaching the fourth round before withdrawing minutes before a match with Maria Sharapova due to a pectoral injury. She then made the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, but couldn’t grab the crowns, and seemed destined for the Australian Open semifinals before a late-match ankle injury.

She remains one shy of Margaret Court‘s record 24 Slam singles titles

Earlier Saturday, No. 1 Naomi Osaka was knocked out by the world’s top doubles player, Czech Katerina Siniakova. Defending champion Simona Halep is the lone Grand Slam winner left in the top half of the draw and the only top-five player left at all.

Amanda Anisimova, 17, became the youngest U.S. woman to reach the French Open fourth round since Williams in 1998. She took out Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6 (6), 6-4.

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”