Venus Williams

Venus Williams
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Venus Williams exits on French Open opening day

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PARIS (AP) — Venus Williams’ 22nd appearance at the French Open did not last long.

The 2002 runner-up lost her opening match at Roland Garros for the second year in a row, beaten 6-3, 6-3 by ninth-seeded Elina Svitolina in 1 hour, 13 minutes.

The 38-year-old Williams lost in the first round for the fourth time in the last seven years at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

Wiliams was broken in seven of her nine service games.

She wasn’t the only major winner to make an early exit. Angelique Kerber won’t complete a career Grand Slam this year.

Still hampered by a right ankle injury, the three-time major winner lost 6-4, 6-2 to an 18-year-old Roland Garros beginner, Russian Anastasia Potapova, on Court Philippe Chatrier.

No. 5 seed Kerber’s preparations for Roland Garros, where she never advanced past the quarterfinals, were hampered by the injury she suffered at the Madrid Open last month.

“Of course this is not my excuse and everything,” Kerber said. “I tried my best. I know that there is still a little bit of work to do to be really playing matches 100 percent.”

The 81st-ranked Potapova sealed the opening set with a cross-court backhand winner and broke twice at the start of the second. Kerber saved two match points before shanking a forehand wide sealing her fate.

“The clay season is over now for me. Yeah, I’m happy about that, that I can now look forward to playing on grass,” added Kerber, who won the Australian Open and US Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2018.

Playing his first match at Roland Garros since 2015, Roger Federer had no problem reaching the second round.

Back on the refurbished Chatrier, the 20-time Grand Slam champion defeated French Open debutant Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

Federer missed the French Open in 2016 because of a back injury and then skipped the event to focus on Wimbledon. He won the title in Paris 10 years ago to complete a career Grand Slam.

“I missed you, thanks very much for the welcome,” Federer said to the crowd after concluding his match. “I was quite tense at the start.”

Among other seeded players in action, 2016 champion and 19th-seeded Garbine Muguruza advanced to the second round with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win over American Taylor Townsend at the tournament’s newest stadium, Court Simonne Mathieu. No. 11-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia defeated Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 6-3, 7-5, 6-1.

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

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Serena routs Venus in all-Williams match at U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — Serena Williams overcame a right ankle injury to sweep sister Venus 6-1, 6-2 in the U.S. Open third round on Friday night, tying the most one-sided result of their 30 career matches.

She called it her best match since returning from giving birth to daughter Olympia last Sept. 1. She also said Venus is “the only reason I’m still out here.”

“It’s the best match she’s ever played against me,” Venus said. “I don’t think I did a lot wrong. But she just did everything right.”

Serena moved to 18-12 in the head-to-head series that began at the pro level in 1998 but really dates three decades to their Southern California upbringing. Only one other time has one sister failed to win four games — Serena’s 6-1, 6-2 win in the 2013 Charleston Open final.

“It’s not easy. She’s my best friend.” Serena said after they embraced and she gave a subdued wave to the crowd. “Every time she loses, I feel like I do.”

Their match at Arthur Ashe Stadium was their earliest in a Grand Slam since their first meeting in the 1998 Australian Open second round.

The two women with 30 combined Grand Slam singles titles played so early here because of Serena’s maternity leave. Her ranking was not protected for the absence, which meant Serena was ranked No. 26 going into the U.S. Open even with making the Wimbledon final last month.

Serena advanced to the fourth round to face Estonian Kaia Kanepi. She is four match wins from tying Margaret Court‘s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with a seventh U.S. Open.

Serena received medical treatment in the first set on her heavily taped right ankle.

“I actually roll my ankles a lot, so I just was wanting to get it taped as tight as I could for the rest of the match,” she said. “See how I feel tomorrow.”

Venus had won their most recent match, 6-3, 6-4 at Indian Wells in March, Serena’s first WTA event since childbirth.

They also played in Serena’s last match before her maternity leave. Serena won the 2017 Australian Open final 6-4, 6-4 while eight weeks pregnant.

“It was two against one,” Venus joked Wednesday. “At least this time it’ll be fair.”

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U.S. OPEN: Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

Serena, Venus Williams set up U.S. Open sisters showdown

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NEW YORK — Serena and Venus Williams will play in the U.S. Open third round, their earliest Grand Slam meeting since their first at the 1998 Australian Open.

“I wouldn’t say it’s exciting,” Serena said. “We would rather have met later [in the tournament]. … Normally I would say cheer for me, but whoever you’re feeling like, me or Venus, either one will work.”

Serena ensured the sisters’ 30th career match Friday by beating German Carina Witthöft 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday night. Six hours earlier, Venus swept Italian Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 on another sweltering day in Queens.

“I never root against her, no matter what,” Serena said. “When you always want someone to win, to have to beat them. I know the same thing is for her. When she beats me, she always roots for me as well.”

Serena leads the head-to-head 17-12, winning eight of the last 10. Venus took the most recent, 6-3, 6-4 at Indian Wells in March, Serena’s first WTA event since having daughter Olympia on Sept. 1.

They also played in Serena’s last match before her maternity leave. Serena won the 2017 Australian Open final 6-4, 6-4 while eight weeks pregnant.

“It was two against one,” Venus joked Wednesday. “At least this time it’ll be fair.”

The two women with 30 combined Grand Slam singles titles are playing so early here because of Serena’s maternity leave. Her ranking was not protected for the absence, which meant Serena was No. 26 going into the U.S. Open even with making the Wimbledon final last month.

Venus is ranked 16th, and Serena received a seeding bump from tournament organizers to No. 17. They were randomly drawn into the same section of the top half of the draw and now meet in the round of 32.

“It’s really interesting to play someone that knows [you],” Serena said. “You have to almost become a different player, which is another challenge, as well. I think that’s also something that helps her.”

U.S. OPEN: Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

Venus faced a tougher road to their 16th matchup at a Slam and sixth at the U.S. Open.

She needed three sets to outlast 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round. Giorgi, at No. 40, is the highest-ranked player either Williams has faced so far.

Venus, 38, is also playing to make the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time this year after doing so at all four majors in a resurgent 2017. She finished the year ranked No. 5 but has since dropped to No. 16.

The Williams-Williams winner would have been due to play No. 1 SImona Halep in the fourth round, but Halep became the first women’s top seed to lose in the U.S. Open first round in the 51-year Open Era.

Instead, Serena or Venus will play either Estonian Kaia Kanepi or Swede Rebecca Peterson in the round of 16.

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