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Andy Murray signals career resumption rather than retirement

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Andy Murray will indeed play competitive tennis again. Murray intends to play doubles at June’s Queen’s Club Championships, the Wimbledon tune-up tournament confirmed Monday.

“I’m not yet ready to return to the singles court, but I’ve been pain-free for a few months now,” Murray said in a statement. “I’ve made good progress in training and on the practice court, and this is the next step for me as I try to return to the tour.”

It has been reported that Murray’s doubles partner will be Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

Before the Australian Open in January, where he lost in the first round, Murray said that he planned to retire at some point in 2019 due to hip problems — and that it was possible that Grand Slam tournament might be the final event of his career.

In early March, Murray said he was pain-free after hip surgery but likely wouldn’t play at Wimbledon. Murray told the BBC then that he wanted to continue playing, but the surgeons “couldn’t give me any guarantees.”

The three-time Grand Slam champion said, “I don’t feel any pressure to come back. If it allows me to play that’s brilliant.”

Murray had an operation to repair his damaged right hip with a metal implant. The 31-year-old said he was without pain for the first time in 18 months but could not do “any high-impact movement.” Murray was seen hitting a serve on a grass court in a video on his Instagram on Saturday.

Murray, who has two daughters, said, “having the surgery was to improve all the day-to-day things and my quality of life.”

Queen’s starts two weeks before the start of Wimbledon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

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Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

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FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

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For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

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