Serena Williams loses Wimbledon thriller, discusses tennis future

Serena Williams
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Serena Williams lost in her first singles match in 364 days as 115th-ranked Frenchwoman Harmony Tan outlasted her 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (7) in the Wimbledon first round in Williams’ longest match in a decade — 3 hours, 11 minutes.

Williams, a 40-year-old with 23 Grand Slam singles titles, did not say definitively in a press conference afterward whether she plans to continue playing competitive tennis.

Asked if it was likely her last singles match, she said, “That’s a question I can’t answer. Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up.”

Asked if she’s OK if this is her last memory at Wimbledon, she said, “Obviously not. You know me. Definitely not.”

Asked if there’s any part of her that wants to play the U.S. Open in two months, she said, “That being the first place I’ve won a Grand Slam [in 1999], is something that’s always super special. … There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home.”

WIMBLEDON DRAWS: Women | Men

Williams followed a rusty first set with a more Serena-like second set, which included a marathon 30-point second game.

She squandered a third-set break of serve, failing to serve out the match. In the 10-point super tiebreak, she won the first four points, then lost the next four points. Tan went up a mini break at 8-6 in the tiebreak, then served it out.

“If you’re playing week in, week out, or even every three weeks, every four weeks, there’s a little bit more match toughness,” Williams said. “You’ve got to think if I were playing matches, I wouldn’t miss some of those points, or this match.”

It was Williams’ first three-hour match since her 2012 French Open first-round loss to another Frenchwoman, Virginie Razzano (which was 3:03). Those are her lone two defeats in completed first-round matches in her Grand Slam career.

“It definitely makes me want to hit the practice courts because … you’re playing not bad, and you’re so close,” Williams said. “It’s actually kind of like, OK, Serena, you can do this if you want.”

Before the tournament, Williams said she was largely motivated to take a wild card into Wimbledon by what happened last year at the All England Club. Last June 29, she tore a hamstring in a first-round match and withdrew, leaving her future in tennis in the air.

“It was always something since the match ended that was always on my mind,” she said Saturday. “So it was a tremendous amount of motivation for that.”

Also Tuesday, Coco Gauff rallied past Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in her first major match since her French Open runner-up result.

Gauff, ranked a career-high No. 12, made the fourth round in her two previous Wimbledon appearances, including her breakthrough Coco Mania run at age 15 in 2019.

She celebrated her high school graduation last month in Paris and is the youngest player in the women’s draw of 128 at Wimbledon. She is the youngest player in the WTA top 140.

“I feel like I’m a lot more relaxed than when I was considered the sensation,” Gauff said before the tournament. “It felt like everybody wanted the results to happen now, now, now. I feel like I learned so much not to put pressure on now, now, now. This time around, even though I’m considered a favorite, I don’t feel like it as much as I did when I was 15 or even 16. … I felt like I was a little bit delusional in my head about how much people wanted me to win, whereas now I feel like if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Gauff next gets Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu, who at 34 is nearly twice her age.

Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who defeated Gauff in the French Open final, dispatched Croatian Jana Fett 6-0, 6-3 to run her win streak to 36 matches, the longest in women’s tennis in 25 years.

Swiatek earned her 17th bagel set this year in 48 matches, matching Steffi Graf‘s number through her Wimbledon first-round match (41 matches) in her 1988 Golden Slam year.

If Swiatek wins her next match, she will tie the longest women’s streak since Graf won 66 in a row in 1989-90.

Rafael Nadal, halfway to a calendar Grand Slam, beat Argentine Francisco Cerundolo 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in his first Wimbledon match since 2019.

With 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini‘s withdrawal Tuesday, Nadal is the lone player in his half of the draw who has made a Wimbledon final.

American serve-and-volleyer Maxime Cressy took out No. 6 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5). Auger-Aliassime was the other top-10 seed in Nadal’s quarter.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
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The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
Lafayette
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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International Boxing Association lifts ban on Russia, Belarus

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The International Boxing Association (IBA) lifted its ban on amateur boxers from Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine that had been in place since early March.

“The IBA strongly believes that politics shouldn’t have any influence on sports,” the federation said in a press release. “Hence, all athletes should be given equal conditions.”

Most international sports federations banned athletes from Russia and Belarus indefinitely seven months ago, acting after an IOC recommendation. It is believed that the IBA is the first international federation in an Olympic sport to lift its ban.

The IOC has not officially changed its recommendation from last winter to exclude Russia and Belarus athletes “to protect the integrity of the events and the safety of the other participants.”

Last week, IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with an Italian newspaper that Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could at some point be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag.

IBA, in lifting its ban, will also allow Russia and Belarus flags and national anthems.

“The time has now come to allow all the rest of the athletes of Russia and Belarus to participate in all the official competitions of their sports representing their countries,” IBA President Umar Kremlev, a Russian, said in a press release last week. “Both the IOC and the International Federations must protect all athletes, and there should be no discrimination based on nationality. It is the duty of all of us to keep sports and athletes away from politics.”

In 2019, the IOC stripped the IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition following an inquiry committee report into finance, governance, refereeing and judging. The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

The IBA will not run qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Games, but it does still hold world championships, the next being a men’s event in Uzbekistan next year.

Boxing, introduced on the Olympic program in 1904, was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games but can still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” Bach said last December.

On Sept. 23, the IBA suspended Ukraine’s boxing federation, citing “government interference.” Ukraine boxers are still allowed to compete with their flag and anthem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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