Serena Williams announces retirement from tennis after U.S. Open

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Serena Williams will retire from tennis some time after the U.S. Open that starts in three weeks.

“I have never liked the word retirement,” she wrote in a Vogue article. “It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.

“There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction. That time is always hard when you love something so much. My goodness do I enjoy tennis. But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”

Williams, 40, did not write specifically in the article that the U.S. Open will be her last tournament, but all signs point to it at least being her last major.

Williams owns 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one shy of Margaret Court‘s record. Court, the 1960s and ’70s Australian star, won 11 Australian Opens when many of the world’s top players did not play the event. Most of her titles came before all of the world’s best players gathered for each of the four majors.

“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the ‘open era’ that began in 1968,” Williams wrote. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her.”

Williams went nearly a year between tournament play after withdrawing from her 2021 Wimbledon first-round match with a right hamstring tear. Her first singles tournament back was this year’s Wimbledon, where she lost in the first round to 115th-ranked Frenchwoman Harmony Tan.

“There’s a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret that day in London [at Wimbledon this year], then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, ‘See ya!'” Williams wrote. “I get that. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment.”

Williams finished runner-up at four majors since returning from 2017 life-threatening childbirth — at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2019. Her last major title came while eight weeks pregnant at the 2017 Australian Open.

“In the last year, [husband] Alexis [Ohanian] and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we’re ready, we can add to our family,” she wrote. “I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.

“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family.

“But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter.”

Williams won her first-round match in a U.S. Open lead-up tournament in Toronto on Monday. She is expected to play her next match Wednesday. Players at the tournament commented on the news, including 18-year-old Coco Gauff.

“Not really shocking but almost shocking news because she’s just been playing forever, my whole life,” said Gauff, who was born four and a half years after Williams’ first major singles title. “The legacy that she’s left through her tennis career is something that I don’t think any other player can probably touch.

“I grew up watching her. I mean, that’s the reason why I play tennis. Tennis being a predominantly white sport, it definitely helped a lot because I saw somebody who looked like me dominating the game, and it made me believe that I could dominate, too.”

Williams said she is “getting there” mentally and feeling much better in practice physically.

“It’s just getting that to the court,” she said in Toronto on Monday. “I’m the kind of person it just takes one or two things and then it clicks, so I’m just waiting for that to click.”

Her first major singles title came at the U.S. Open in 1999 at age 17. The next year, she won the first of three Olympic doubles titles with older sister Venus. She also won singles gold at the 2012 London Games.

“There is no happiness in this topic for me,” she wrote of retirement. “I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not. I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”

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Germany goes 1-2 at bobsled worlds; Kaillie Humphries breaks medals record

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Kim Kalicki and Lisa Buckwitz gave Germany a one-two in the world bobsled championships two-woman event, while American Kaillie Humphries earned bronze to break the career medals record.

Kalicki, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics and leads this season’s World Cup standings, edged Buckwitz by five hundredths of a second combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Humphries, with push athlete Kaysha Love, was 51 hundredths behind.

Olympic champion Laura Nolte was in third place after two runs but crashed in the third run.

Humphries, 37 and a three-time Olympic champion between two-woman and monobob, earned her eighth world championships medal in the two-woman event. That broke her tie for the record of seven with retired German Sandra Kiriasis. Humphries is also the most decorated woman in world championships monobob, taking gold and silver in the two times it has been contested.

Humphries rolled her ankle after the first day of last week’s monobob, plus took months off training in the offseason while also doing two rounds of IVF.

“I chose to continue the IVF journey through the season which included a Lupron Depot shot the day before this race began,” she posted after her monobob silver last weekend. “My weight and body fluctuating all year with hormones, it was a battle to find my normal while competing again. I’m happy with this result, I came into it wanting a podium and we achieved it as a team.”

Love, who was seventh with Humphries in the Olympic two-woman event, began her transition to become a driver after the Games.

Worlds finish Sunday with the final two runs of the four-man event.

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.