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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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Transgender track and field athletes now face same standard that has kept out Caster Semenya

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Transgender athletes will have to reduce their testosterone level to the same level applied to Caster Semenya and other athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD), under a new policy enacted by World Athletics (formerly the IAAF).

As with DSD athletes, the threshold for middle-distance runners has been lowered from 10 nanomoles per liter to 5.

“These Regulations have been drafted to align with the Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development) and include updates to reflect current medical standards and the legal framework,” World Athletics said in announcing the latest IAAF Council decisions.

The IAAF claimed a similar basis in medical standards last year when it announced its updated policy on DSD athletes: “No female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above unless they have DSD or a tumour.”

Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 meters, challenged that limit in the Court of Arbitration for Sport but lost her case in May. Given a brief reprieve by a Swiss court, she ran the fastest 800-meter time of the year (1:54.98), but a higher court overruled her appeal. She did not compete in the recent world championships.

MORE: Semenya laments lack of support

Another athlete affected by the DSD policy, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui, told the Olympic Channel she was struggling to find a new direction after the rule was passed.

“It affected me a lot,” Wambui said. “I didn’t want to train or do anything. …

“Caster has fought for us. She has done her level best. She has tried, but we failed.”

VIDEO: Wambui: “No one chose to be born the way they are”

Transgender athletes have not yet been prominent in international track and field, though controversies have arisen at other levels, particularly in a Connecticut case in which high school athletes filed a Title IX complaint after losing to transgender athletes. The athletes who filed the claim said they were potentially at a disadvantage in terms of earning college scholarships.

The new World Athletics policy insists that its stipulations for transgender athletes are actually generous. “The decision limit also takes into consideration that, for clinical purposes, the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline for Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons recommends that transgender females should have serum testosterone levels of less than 50 ng/dL (i.e. approximately 1.7 nmol/L).”

But while DSD and transgender athletes face different issues, Semenya and other DSD athletes have set a precedent by withdrawing from competition rather than bring their levels down to the 5 nmol/L standard. In CAS proceedings, Semenya said she experienced regular fevers, night sweats, significant weight gain and constant abdominal pain while taking medication to meet the previous standard of 10 nmol/L.

The International Olympic Committee also put a 10 nmol/L limit in place for both transgender and DSD athletes in 2015. Some athletes have complained that transgender athletes still have an unfair advantage under that policy.

The World Athletics policy also addresses transgender men, granting them permission to take regulated testosterone supplements to bring levels within a typical range for men.

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U.S. men’s volleyball extends medal streak with bronze in World Cup

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With its medal-winning streak in jeopardy, the defending champion U.S. men’s volleyball team beat Egypt 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 on Tuesday in Hiroshima, Japan. Poland beat Iran later in the day to slip past the U.S. for silver behind unbeaten Brazil.

The experienced U.S. men have claimed a medal in the last four major international tournaments — gold in the 2015 World Cup, bronze in the 2016 Olympics, bronze in the 2018 world championships and bronze in this year’s World Cup. The men also placed second in the 2019 Nations League and third in the first Nations League in 2018, though the team failed to medal in the last two editions of the World League in 2016 and 2017.

Most importantly for next year, the U.S. men swept their Olympic qualification tournament in August.

Micah Christenson was named best setter of the tournament, as he was in the 2015 tournament and in the 2018 world championships. Middle blocker Max Holt was also named to the tournament “Dream Team.

VIDEO: U.S.-Egypt highlights

The U.S. team’s World Cup started with a five-set loss to Argentina, which went on to finish fifth. The U.S. rebounded to beat Italy, world champion Poland, host Japan, Tunisia and Iran before losing to eventual champion Brazil. Border rival Canada took the U.S. to five sets, but sweeps against Australia and Brazil put the team in position to clinch its medal.

Heading into next year’s Olympics, the U.S. team has several internationally accomplished players. In addition to Christenson’s multiple awards, Matt Anderson was named the best opposite hitter in the world championship and Nations League in 2018, and Aaron Russell was named to the Dream Team in the 2016 Olympics. Russell, playing for Italian team Trentino, also was named MVP of the World Club Championship in December.

The U.S. women’s team also won two medals this year gold in the Nations League, silver in the World Cup and swept its own qualification tournament.

This success comes despite the lack of a professional league in the United States. USA volleyball announced last week it has processed paperwork for 257 women and 82 men to play in foreign leagues for the 2019-20, with more players to follow.

The World Cup is contested every four years, the year before the Olympics. The world championship takes place in even non-Olympic years. Qualification for the World Cup is more difficult — only 12 teams reach the tournament, while 24 teams take part in the world championship. 

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