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.”


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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Swiss extend best streak in curling history; Norway continues epic winter sports season

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Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni extended the most dominant run in world curling championships history, skipping a women’s team to a fourth consecutive title and pushing an unbeaten streak to 36 consecutive games.

Tirinzoni, along with Alina Pätz (who throws the last stones), Carole Howald and Briar Schwaller-Hürlimann, beat Norway 6-3 in Sunday’s final in Sandviken, Sweden.

They went 14-0 for the tournament after a Swiss team also skipped by Tirinzoni also went 14-0 to win the 2022 World title. Tirinzoni’s last defeat in world championship play came during round-robin in 2021 at the hands of Swede Anna Hasselborg, the 2018 Olympic champion.

In all, Tirinzoni’s Swiss are 42-1 over the last three world championships and 45-1 in world championship play dating to the start of the 2019 playoffs. Tirinzoni also skipped the Swiss at the last two Olympics, finishing seventh and then fourth.

Tirinzoni, a 43-year-old who has worked as a project management officer for Migros Bank, is the lone female skip to win three or more consecutive world titles.

The lone man to do it is reigning Olympic champion Niklas Edin of Sweden, who goes for a fifth in a row next week in Ottawa. Edin’s teams lost at least once in round-robin play in each of their four title runs.

Norway extended its incredible winter sports season by earning its first world medal in women’s curling since 2005.

Norway has 53 medals, including 18 golds, in world championships in Winter Olympic program events this season, surpassing its records for medals and gold medals at a single edition of a Winter Olympics (39 and 16).

A Canadian team skipped by Kerri Einarson took bronze. Canada has gone four consecutive women’s worlds without making the final, a record drought for its men’s or women’s teams.

A U.S. team skipped by Olympian Tabitha Peterson finished seventh in round-robin, missing the playoffs by one spot.

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Ilia Malinin eyed new heights at figure skating worlds, but a jump to gold requires more


At 18 years old, Ilia Malinin already has reached immortality in figure skating for technical achievement, being the first to land a quadruple Axel jump in competition.

The self-styled “Quadg0d” already has shown the chutzpah (or hubris?) to go for the most technically difficult free skate program ever attempted at the world championships, including that quad Axel, the hardest jump anyone has tried.

It helped bring U.S. champion Malinin the world bronze medal Saturday in Saitama, Japan, where he made more history as the first to land the quad Axel at worlds.

But it already had him thinking that the way to reach the tops of both the worlds and Olympus might be to acknowledge his mortal limits.

Yes, if Malinin (288.44 points) had cleanly landed all six quads he did instead of going clean on just three of the six, it would have closed or even overcome the gap between him and repeat champion Shoma Uno of Japan (301.14) and surprise silver medalist Cha Jun-Hwan (296.03), the first South Korean man to win a world medal.

That’s a big if, as no one ever has done six clean quads in a free skate.

And the energy needed for those quads, physical and mental, hurts Malinin’s chances of closing another big gap with the world leaders: the difference in their “artistic” marks, known as component scores.

Malinin’s technical scores led the field in both the short program and free skate. But his component scores were lower than at last year’s worlds, when he finished ninth, and they ranked 10th in the short program and 11th in the free this time. Uno had an 18.44-point overall advantage over Malinin in PCS, Cha a 13.47 advantage.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Chock, Bates, and a long road to gold | Results

As usual in figure skating, some of the PCS difference owes to the idea of paying your dues. After all, at his first world championships, eventual Olympic champion Nathan Chen had PCS scores only slightly better than Malinin’s, and Chen’s numbers improved substantially by the next season.

But credit Malinin for quickly grasping the reality that his current skating has a lot of rough edges on the performance side.

“I’ve noticed that it’s really hard to go for a lot of risks,” he said in answer to a press conference question about what he had learned from this competition. “Sometimes going for the risks you get really good rewards, but I think that maybe sometimes it’s OK to lower the risks and go for a lot cleaner skate. I think it will be beneficial next season to lower the standards a bit.”

So could it be “been-there, done-that” with the quad Axel? (and the talk of quints and quad-quad combinations?)

Saturday’s was his fourth clean quad Axel in seven attempts this season, but it got substantially the lowest grade of execution (0.36) of the four with positive marks. It was his opening jump in the four-minute free, and, after a stopped-in-your tracks landing, his next two quads, flip and Lutz, were both badly flawed.

And there were still some three minutes to go.

Malinin did not directly answer about letting the quad Axel go now that he has definitively proved he can do it. What he did say could be seen as hinting at it.

“With the whole components factor … it’s probably because you know, after doing a lot of these jumps, (which) are difficult jumps, it’s really hard to try to perform for the audience,” he said.

“Even though some people might enjoy jumping, and it’s one of the things I enjoy, but I also like to perform to the audience. So I think next season, I would really want to focus on this performing side.”

Chen had told me essentially the same thing for a 2017 Ice Network story (reposted last year by about his several years of ballet training. He regretted not being able to show that training more because of the program-consuming athletic demands that come with being an elite figure skater.

“When I watch my skating when I was younger, I definitely see all this balletic movement and this artistry come through,” Chen said then. “When I watch my artistry now, it’s like, ‘Yes, it’s still there,’ but at the same time, I’m so focused on the jumps, it takes away from it.”

The artistry can still be developed and displayed, as Chen showed and as prolific and proficient quad jumpers like Uno and the now retired two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan have proved.

For another perspective on how hard it is to combine both, look at the difficulty it posed for the consummate performer, Jason Brown, who had the highest PCS scores while finishing a strong fifth (280.84).

Since Brown dropped his Sisyphean attempts to do a clean quad after 26 tries (20 in a free skate), the last at the 2022 U.S. Championships, he has received the two highest international free skate scores of his career, at the 2022 Olympics and this world meet.

It meant Brown’s coming to terms with his limitations and the fact that in the sport’s current iteration, his lack of quads gives him little chance of winning a global championship medal. What he did instead was give people the chance to see the beauty of his blade work, his striking movement, his expressiveness.

He has, at 28, become an audience favorite more than ever. And the judges Saturday gave Brown six maximum PCS scores (10.0.)

“I’m so happy about today’s performance,” Brown told media in the mixed zone. “I did my best to go out there and skate my skate. And that’s what I did.”

The quadg0d is realizing that he, too, must accept limitations if he wants to achieve his goals. Ilia Malinin can’t simply jump his way onto the highest steps of the most prized podiums.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to

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