Naomi Osaka

AP

Serena Williams apologized to Naomi Osaka for U.S. Open final

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WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Serena Williams says she sent an apology to Naomi Osaka for her behavior in last year’s U.S. Open final.

Williams, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals on Tuesday, says in a Harper’s Bazaar magazine article that she wrote to Osaka after not being able to “find peace.”

Williams says “I started seeing a therapist. I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racket. Finally I realized that there was only one way for me to move forward. It was time for me to apologize to the person who deserved it the most.”

Williams says she told the Japanese player she was a fan and that she was “truly sorry.”

Osaka answered the message, and Williams says “when Naomi’s response came through, tears rolled down my face.”

Williams was given three code violations by chair umpire Carlos Ramos in the U.S. Open final, resulting in the loss of a game. The first came as a result of what Ramos deemed coaching from her box. The second was for smashing her racket, costing her a point. And the third came after she called Ramos “a thief.”

WIMBLEDON: Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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Naomi Osaka, among Wimbledon opening upsets, exits on verge of tears

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Naomi Osaka was asked after her first-round Wimbledon loss about splitting from her coach in the winter, about inconsistency, about restoring confidence. Finally, about getting used to her new level of global fame.

“Can I leave?” the No. 2 seed said after that 11th question of her press conference following a 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to 39th-ranked Yulia Putintseva. “I feel like I’m about to cry.”

Osaka became the highest-ranked women’s singles seed to lose in the first round of Wimbledon since Martina Hingis in 2001 on Monday. Putintseva swept her for the second time in the last two weeks.

Osaka, who broke through with back-to-back hardcourt Slams at the U.S. Open in September and the Australian Open in January, has lost in the first week of back-to-back Slams on clay and grass.

She committed 38 unforced errors as the 5-foot-4 Putintseva had twice as many winners as unforced errors, 15 to seven, in her first time on tennis’ most famous court.

A reporter asked if the parity atop women’s tennis — Osaka is the lone multiple winner of the last 10 Grand Slams — softened the blow of the defeat.

“That makes me feel worse,” she said. Osaka refused to relate it to splitting from coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open or her youth (21 years).

“There is answers to questions that you guys ask that I still haven’t figured out yet,” she said.

Osaka said before the tournament that her transition from the spring clay season to grass had been tough.

In her tune-up event in Birmingham, Great Britain, she needed three sets to get out of the first round and then was dumped by Putintseva. At one point in the event, she sat next to her chair rather than on it during a break.

“I had so much stuff on my mind, then I was trying to change something, whether it be, like, sitting on the floor, whatever, try to change something,” said Osaka, who has not made a WTA final since the Australian Open and her February split from Bajin, with whom she won those two Slams. Osaka later attributed the move to putting happiness before success. “You know the song, ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems?’ … There might not necessarily be more problems, but I’m definitely overthinking more.”

Osaka’s ouster opens the draw for No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and No. 7 Simona Halep in the bottom half. No. 10 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 16 Markéta Vondroušová also lost Monday.

In the men’s draw, No. 6 Alexander Zverev and No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas were sent packing, boosting the already heavy likelihood that one of the Big Three will claim the title in two weeks.

Zverev, who fell in four sets to Czech Jiri Vesely, has been ranked as high as No. 3 but hasn’t made a Grand Slam semifinal.

Tsitsipas, dropped by Italian Thomas Fabbiano in five, has beaten Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (on clay) in the last year.

Top-ranked Djokovic began his title defense easing past German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 .

Serena Williams, Federer and Nadal play first-round matches Tuesday.

WIMBLEDON: Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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Naomi Osaka upset at French Open by No. 1 doubles player

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Naomi Osaka, feeling the weight of the No. 1 ranking, could not rally from a set down in a third straight French Open match. She was ousted by the world’s No. 1 doubles player, Czech Kateřina Siniaková, 6-4, 6-2 in the third round on Saturday.

Osaka had won 16 straight Grand Slam matches — including title runs at the U.S. Open and Australian Open — but she was living dangerously, having gone the full three sets in seven of them. That includes dropping the first set in every match this week.

“This tournament I have had a feeling that was different to the other Grand Slams, or, like, every other Grand Slam that I have played, because usually I find it very freeing and fun, and this time around I was kind of tense the entire time,” Osaka said, adding that, on a scale of 1 to 10, her level of disappointment was 100. “Today I felt very tired. And, like, the other matches, too, I had, like, this headache, right, but I didn’t feel tired.”

Siniakova, who had never made a Grand Slam fourth round in 18 tries, saved seven break points while converting three of six chances against Osaka. The Czech gets American Madison Keys in the round of 16.

Osaka was bidding to join Serena Williams as the only women to win three straight majors in the last 21 years. She was undone by 38 unforced errors to Siniakova’s 13. Osaka, who has never made a clay-court final nor the second week at the French Open, will retain the No. 1 ranking.

“There has been a weight on me, kind of,” she said when asked of any pressure associated with the number next to her name. “I wasn’t ranked one last year. I was ranked 70. … Last year I would have been happy to get to the third round [at the French Open. I mean, it would have been normal.

“It’s weird, but I think me losing is probably the best thing that could have happened. I think I was overthinking this, like, calendar slam. For me this is something that I have wanted to do forever, but I think I have to think about it like if it was that easy, everyone would have done it.”

The draw opens up for Williams, who could have played Osaka in the quarterfinals. The 23-time Grand Slam singles champ plays countrywoman Sofia Kenin later Saturday. Defending champion Simona Halep is also into the fourth round in the top half.

The bottom half is less imposing, with No. 7 Sloane Stephens the only remaining top-10 seed.

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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