Venus Williams is fourth-oldest woman to win Wimbledon match; Roger Federer advances

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WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Venus Williams accumulated 10 aces Tuesday by smacking serves at up to 114 mph — not quite like the old days, but not too shabby, either.

She drove forehands to corners. She made her way to the net for crisp volleys. And when it was all over, the 41-year-old American celebrated her first Wimbledon match win since 2018 by raising her arms and yelling “Come on!” before reprising her familiar smile-and-twirl wave at No. 3 Court.

A five-time singles champion at the All England Club who is making her 23rd appearance there, Williams began her record-extending 90th Grand Slam tournament with her 90th career victory at Wimbledon, beating Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

She became the fourth-oldest woman to win a Wimbledon singles match after Madeline (AE) O’Neill (54, 1922), Martina Navratilova (47, 2004) and Kimiko Date (42, 2013).

Williams is a former No. 1-ranked player who came into this week ranked 111th and having lost in the first or second round at the past eight majors.

“You can’t win them all. Life is about how you handle challenges. Each point is a challenge on the court. No one gives you anything,” said Williams, who was diagnosed a decade ago with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain. “I like to think I handle my challenges well.”

WIMBLEDON DRAWS: Men | Women

Roger Federer also advanced despite losing two sets to French veteran Adrian Mannarino. The record eight-time Wimbledon men’s singles champ evened the match at 6-4, 6-7 (3), 3-6, 6-2 when Mannarino retired with a leg injury.

The schedule on Day 2 of the tournament, like on Day 1, was jumbled by showers. At least 18 matches were postponed until Wednesday and a dozen were suspended in progress shortly after Williams finished off a victory that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours.

Her sister Serena, a seven-time Wimbledon champ, and Federer were assured of playing later Tuesday, because their matches were on Centre Court, which has a retractable roof.

Women’s winners included 2018 champion Angelique Kerber, No. 1 seed Ash Barty, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, No. 15 Maria Sakkari, two-time Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva, 2020 French Open semifinalist Nadia Podoroska and Americans Shelby Rogers, Madison Brengle and qualifier Claire Liu. Another U.S. woman, No. 28 seed Alison Riske, was beaten 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 by Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic.

In men’s action, 20-year-old American Sebastian Korda — whose father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open and whose sisters, No. 1-ranked Nelly and Jessica, are on the LPGA Tour — made a successful Wimbledon debut, eliminating No. 15 Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5).

No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 9 Diego Schwartzman and No. 26 Fabio Fognini also advanced.

Buzarnescu is a 33-year-old left-hander who has dealt with a series of injuries and has gone from the top 20 to outside the top 150.

“Both of us, we are not young anymore. She’s got a few years in front of me,” Buzarnescu said about Williams. “Really a lot of respect for her to be still playing at this age. And I’m really happy that as long as she can compete at this level, that she will continue, because she’s an example for (all) tennis players.”

Williams, who is entered in the mixed doubles competition with Nick Kyrgios, made her debut at Wimbledon in 1997. She won it for the first time in 2000 and most recently in 2008, the year she set the tournament women’s record for fastest serve, 129 mph.

On this day, with strips of black tape around her left knee, serving helped Williams save 13 of 15 break points, including a trio in the final game.

On the first, Buzarnescu tried a lob that the 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) Williams reached and turned into an overhead winner. Buzarnescu flipped her racket end over end and caught it. The next break chance ended with a backhand passing shot into the net. On the third, a powerful forehand from Williams forced an error, and Buzarnescu put her hands on her hips.

Two points later, it ended. One of Williams’ sisters stood and shot the scene with her cellphone. Her mother, Oracene Price, simply sat in the stands, head resting on her left hand.

Someone who was rather demonstrative about hoping Williams would win: No. 21 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who earlier this month became the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

When Jabeur did a video conference with reporters after winning her first-round match, Williams and Buzarnescu were beginning their last set. Whoever advanced would meet Jabeur, a 6-2, 6-1 winner against Rebecca Peterson.

“I’m praying for her to win right now. It’s such an honor, privilege, everything, to play Venus,” Jabeur said, smiling widely and holding up crossed fingers on both hands. “She’s a legend and such an inspiration for me. I’ve watched her so many times. I love the way she fights. Honestly, it would be my dream to play her.”

Jabeur said Williams “was kind enough to practice with me” recently and congratulated her for her barrier-breaking trophy.

“Such a nice person. … Very happy and supportive,” Jabeur said. “I appreciate her a lot.”

Later, Williams returned the compliments, calling Jabeur “one of my favorite people on tour.”

“Honestly, she’s just breaking down barriers,” Williams said. “The first woman from her country to do anything that she’s doing. … She’s inspiring so many people, including me.”

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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