At the U.S. Open, three moms make quarterfinals for first time at a Slam

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History was made on Labor Day at the U.S. Open, where three moms advanced to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in the professional era.

Serena Williams, Tsvetana Pironkova and Victoria Azarenka all won fourth-round matches in New York in a first since at least 1968, win the Open Era began, according to the tournament.

Williams, the third seed seeking a 24th Grand Slam singles title, began the day by battling past Greek Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-3. Williams has played at least one match at the U.S. Open with 3-year-old daughter Olympia in the small crowd.

“I just have a totally new respect for moms,” she said between her third- and fourth-round matches. “I would never have thought I would be playing as a mom. … The pluses is that, one day your daughter can say she was there. Whether she remembers or not, we can always have pictures. But other than that, it’s just minus, like, I’m not with her. I’m not around her. It’s hard.”

Later in the afternoon, the Bulgarian Pironkova dispatched Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 to set up a Wednesday quarterfinal with Williams.

Pironkova, who had son Alexander in April 2018, is playing her first tournament of any kind in three years. She returned to tennis training eight months ago and is bidding to go 10 years between Grand Slam semifinal appearances.

“Everything in mothering, I guess, it’s helped me,” Pironkova said. “Obviously you become a different person. You don’t focus on yourself that much anymore, like your focus is primary on your child. And I guess that’s a good thing. I’m a lot more organized, as well. Mentally, I have more mental endurance, also. Physically, I know my body better.”

Finally, at about 10:30 p.m., the former world No. 1 but now unseeded Azarenka rallied past 20th-seeded Czech Karolina Muchova 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Azarenka, who won two Australian Opens and made 16 total Grand Slam quarterfinals before having son Leo in December 2016, is into the last eight of a major for the first time as a mom.

“I don’t know if I feel different just because as a mother,” the Belarusian said. “I don’t identify myself on the tennis court as a mother. I still identify myself as a tennis player. Me being in the quarterfinals, I didn’t get there by being a parent. I got there by being a tennis player. But it feels amazing that I can share this moment, and hopefully be a good role model to my son.”

Other moms excelled in tennis.

Australian Margaret Court won the last three of her 24 Grand Slam singles titles as a mom. Countrywoman Evonne Goolagong Cawley won 1980 Wimbledon, three years after childbirth.

Belgian Kim Clijsters returned from childbirth and retirement to win the U.S. Open in 2009 and 2010 and the Australian Open in 2011. Clijsters unretired again this year, after seven years away, and lost in three sets in the U.S. Open first round.

“For the past seven years, I’ve been a full-time mom, and I love it. I really, really do,” Clijsters said when she announced a comeback last September. “But I also loved being a professional tennis player. And honestly, I miss that feeling. So … what if I tried to do both? Could I be loving mum to my three kids and the best tennis player I can possibly be? Let’s do this.”

US OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

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Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final