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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Jordan Wilimovsky qualifies for Tokyo Olympics in open-water swimming

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Open-water swimmer Jordan Wilimovsky is the first male athlete on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.

Wilimovsky, who placed fourth and fifth in two distance events at the 2016 Rio Games, joined fellow open-water swimmers Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell in qualifying for Tokyo via the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

Wilimovsky, 25, placed fifth in the 10km event on Tuesday. Anderson and Twichell were second and sixth in the women’s 10km on Sunday. Top-10 finishers at worlds qualified for Tokyo.

German Florian Wellbrock won by two tenths of a second over French Olympic bronze medalist Marc-Antoine Olivier after 1 hour, 47 minutes in the water. Wilimovsky led with 600 meters left. Olympic 1500m freestyle champion Gregorio Paltrinieri also qualified for Tokyo in the open-water 10km by finishing sixth.

The other American, David Heron, was 25th, missing the Olympic team, but he can try again in the 1500m free in the pool at the Olympic trials next June.

Wilimovsky missed a medal in the Rio Olympic 1500m in the pool by 4.17 seconds, taking fourth. Three days later, he was fifth in the open-water 10km, 1.2 seconds out of bronze.

Wilimovsky, a Malibu native who redshirted at Northwestern to train for Rio, earned gold and silver in the 10km at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.

A U.S. man has never earned an Olympic open-water medal. The event debuted at Beijing 2008.

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Ted Ligety scales back race schedule

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Two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety is scaling back his race schedule as he enters the final portion of his decorated Alpine skiing career.

Ligety, a 34-year-old who has endured many injuries since his last World Cup win in 2015, said he will race strictly giant slaloms this year. The World Cup season starts in late October.

“So it’ll be a little bit easier schedule on my body,” Ligety said in a KPCW radio interview in his native Park City, Utah. “I’ll be able to be home a little bit more as well, and then we see. I mean, I would like to keep going as long as I feel like I can win races and feel healthy. That’s really the biggest part, and nowadays I have a 2-year-old son, and there’s more factors than there was when I was 25 years old.”

Ligety, nicknamed “Mr. GS” for his giant slalom prowess, has a 2014 Olympic gold medal and three world titles in that event.

He also owns an Olympic combined title from 2006 and world titles in the super-G and combined from 2013, but he hasn’t won a race in one of those disciplines since January 2014. And since then, he has undergone back and knee surgeries and dealt with hip problems.

“There’s a lot of hard miles on my body up to this point, but I’m still enjoying it,” said Ligety, whose 321 World Cup starts are the most among active Olympic medalists now that Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal have retired. “Right now, I feel really healthy and trying to get to a point where I feel I can win races. That’s the goal right now.”

Ligety, a four-time Olympian, has not publicly committed to a 2022 Olympic run.

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