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Maria Sharapova exits Wimbledon; Serena, Federer, Nadal advance

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WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Maria Sharapova retired from her first-round match at Wimbledon with a left wrist injury while trailing 5-0 in the third set.

The 2004 Wimbledon champion served for the match while leading 5-3 in the second set but lost to Pauline Parmentier of France 4-6, 7-6 (4), 5-0.

Sharapova, who was unseeded at the All England Club for the first time since her debut in 2003, called for a medical timeout after the second set and a trainer put some taping on her wrist. She called for the trainer a second time in the third set, and stopped just after Parmentier served for the 5-0 lead.

“I’ve had a history of a tendon in my left forearm flaring up,” Sharapova said. “It happened today in the second set.

“I probably couldn’t have gotten through the whole final set, but I did my best.”

This year’s Wimbledon was only Sharapova’s second tournament since January following shoulder surgery. She lost in the second round in Mallorca last month.

Also Tuesday, Serena Williams opened her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title with a straight-set victory on Centre Court.

The seven-time champion at the All England Club beat Giulia Gatto-Monticone of Italy 6-2, 7-5.

Williams, who lost in the Wimbledon final last year, is short on matches and training time this season, factors she cited after her third-round exit at the French Open, her most recent tournament.

Williams has been dealing with an injured left knee. She said on Saturday she has been “feeling better” and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said the 37-year-old American “doesn’t have pain anymore.”

The 31-year-old Gatto-Monticone was making her debut in Wimbledon’s main draw.

“I haven’t felt this good in months, almost five months,” Williams said. “Right now I have to have every match count, like 10 matches, because I haven’t had a ton of matches this year.”

Roger Federer rallied after losing the first set against an opponent playing his first tour-level match on grass.

Federer shrugged off an early deficit to beat Lloyd Harris of South Africa 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 on Centre Court as he began his search for a record-extending ninth Wimbledon title.

“Once I got going, just legs weren’t moving and things were not happening,” Federer said. “You know, it is always, yeah, slightly unusual first, let’s say, two to three matches maybe, here at Wimbledon, they’re always so different to any other court in the world, the way the ball bounces, the kick goes or doesn’t go.”

Harris was making his debut at the grass-court Grand Slam but rode his powerful serve to a one-set lead. But Federer dominated after that, breaking his opponent twice in each of the next three sets and serving out the match with an ace.

Playing his first match since winning his 12th French Open title, Rafael Nadal had little trouble in making the switch from clay to grass.

Nadal began his search for a third Wimbledon title by beating Japanese qualifier Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 on No. 1 Court to reach the second round.

Nadal was broken in the opening game but dominated after that, breaking his opponent six times and served out the match when Sugita sent a return long. He will next face Nick Kyrgios.

Last year, the Spaniard reached the semifinals at the All England Club for the first time since 2011 before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in five sets.

However, former women’s champion Garbine Muguruza is heading home early again.

Muguruza lost to Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round, making for a second straight early exit for the Spaniard since winning the title in 2017. She lost in the second round last year.

American Sam Querrey, a 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist, ousted two-time French Open runner-up and fifth seed Dominic Thiem 6-7 (4), 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-0. Thiem lost in the first or second round in five of his six Wimbledons.

WIMBLEDON: Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
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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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Jenny Thompson’s new team is on the front line fighting coronavirus

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Two weeks ago, Jenny Thompson, the 12-time Olympic swimming medalist turned anesthesiologist, told close friends about the worrisome situation at her hospital in Charleston, S.C.

Thompson and her perioperative team of 40 or 50 were stressed that they would not have the most effective personal protective equipment (PPE) for when the coronavirus pandemic peaks there, projected to be later this month.

The messages caused fellow former Stanford swimmers and Olympic teammates Gabrielle Rose and Lea Maurer to act.

“She almost never asks for any sort of help or support,” Maurer said. “She’s Herculean in her ability to take on life and all its challenges.”

Rose and Maurer started a GoFundMe titled “Go Jenny Go” on March 22 for help to purchase PPE for the hospital. At the time, critical care doctors were “scrambling to piece together purchases on their own in anticipation of their high risk patients,” Maurer wrote.

Thompson said the PPE situation is better now. The GoFundMe was suspended Wednesday. Future support is directed to help those in New York City. Thompson specifically noted a GoFundMe for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

More than $9,000 was raised in less than two weeks. Also, the hospital started receiving more PPE on its own. Thompson’s team now feels prepared for what’s to come.

“People were responding and donating from all chapters of my life,” Thompson said by phone Thursday. “People I didn’t even know. Family from USA Swimming and international swimming. It’s really touched me to know that so many people care and are able to donate, help share the message.”

Thompson woke at 4 a.m. several days this week with thoughts of her peers in New York City. Healthcare workers there have cited a lack of PPE in putting their own lives at risk while they fight to save others. Some have contracted the virus.

“We’ve been fortunate [in South Carolina]. I feel lucky,” Thompson said. “We’ll definitely be in a place where we’re taking care of a lot of Covid patients, but we’re not there yet.

“I’ve heard people say, people in healthcare knew what they were signing up for. I never signed up to get sick and potentially die from this job. I always assumed that I would have the protection or the supplies needed to help me do my job, and that’s been a real struggle nationwide.”

Thompson went to medical school in New York at Columbia University starting in 2001.

“I’d been there maybe a couple weeks at Columbia, when 9/11 happened,” she said. “I remember feeling very helpless as a first-year medical student. I wanted to help so badly, but there really wasn’t much I could do. All my classmates felt the same way. I’ve always had that as part of the making of me as a doctor, having to go through crisis, but I never imagined a pandemic. I guess some people prepare for this sort of thing their whole life, but I didn’t.”

The term “front lines” has been applied to healthcare workers around the globe. Thompson said it’s apt at her hospital.

“We definitely have Covid here, but we have not had a major outbreak like some other cities,” she said. “We consider every patient who we give general anesthesia and intubate to be a potential risk. As anesthesia providers and people who intubate the airway, we are on the front line. We are at a much higher risk of getting sick without the right PPE.”

Thompson’s team feels more ready for the peak with every passing day. They’re simulating, donning and doffing and scheduling to work longer shifts starting next week. The preparation extends home, where she has a husband and three children.

“I have, like, four different pairs of shoes,” Thompson said. “I spray my socks with fabric disinfectant. I take them off in the car, and then I put on flip-flops. Then when I get home, I shower and put my clothes in the wash immediately. It’s a strange place to be, but just consider everything I touch to be contaminated in an effort to protect myself.”

Both Rose and Maurer still see in Thompson that swimmer who awed them in college. As Thompson trained to become the most decorated female U.S. Olympian in history, she studied at Stanford and then Columbia to become a doctor.

“I knew I wanted to take care of critically ill patients,” she said.

As a swimmer, Thompson was known as the ultimate teammate. Eight Olympic gold medals in relays, often an anchor. Always there. Dependable.

“She knows that she’s going to make a difference,” Maurer said. “She knows that she’s going to achieve that goal. She knows that she’s going to help to make people better. And so she does it.”

Thompson believes the next few weeks will be unlike anything she’s ever faced.

“Everybody was sort of freaking out in the beginning and feeling very stressed, and I think that at some level has not gone away,” she said. “That’s going to stay with us, but we have a we-can-do-this-together fighting mentality that we are leaning on each other for. It’s really no different than being a part of any kind of team.”