AP Story

Venus Williams
Getty Images

Venus Williams exits on French Open opening day

Leave a comment

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

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Italy edges Sweden in public support in 2026 Olympic host study

2026 Winter Olympics
IOC
Leave a comment

GENEVA (AP) — The Italian bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo looked stronger than the Stockholm-Are project in an IOC analysis of the candidates published Friday.

Polling by the International Olympic Committee, which typically looks to get a warm welcome from host nations, showed “83% support in Italy” and “55% in favor in Sweden.”

The evaluation report said the Swedish bid team “considers such figures to be high in the Swedish context.”

The 144-page document was produced for IOC members, with about 90 of them set to pick the winner on June 24 in Lausanne.

Italian public authorities have provided more financial guarantees than in Sweden to underwrite billions of dollars in operating and security costs. Regional authorities in Lombardy and Veneto — “two of the wealthiest regions of Italy” — are the “driving forces behind the candidature,” the report said.

The Swedish bid lacked “binding venue funding guarantees” for the athletes village in Stockholm and the two new sports arenas planned, for speed skating and a venue to be shared by cross-country skiing and biathlon. The IOC evaluation team suggested using existing ski venues in Falun and Ostersund.

The Italian bid has private funding in Milan for the only new arena, for hockey, and an athletes village being built as “much-needed housing” for university students. Both projects are planned to be built regardless of the hosting vote result.

The IOC report also said Stockholm is “not an official Host City,” with authorities in the ski resort Are signing key Olympic contracts.

With a strong emphasis on cutting costs by using existing venues, the Olympic report is positive about using a bobsled course in Sigulda, Latvia.

“This would give Latvia an Olympic experience the country might not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy,” the report said about the venue 285 miles from Stockholm across the Baltic Sea.

“An Olympic Winter Games in Sweden would feature athletes competing in first-rate venues packed with knowledgeable and passionate fans, including many from Nordic countries,” the report said.

Italy also was highlighted for its “passionate fans, knowledgeable volunteers and skilled event organizers (which) would all combine to deliver an outstanding winter sports experience.”

IOC experts did suggest cutting Bormio as one of the two Alpine ski venues to ease possible logistics issues.

For the second straight Winter Games vote, the IOC has been left with only two candidates. Beijing won narrowly over Almaty, Kazakhstan, to get the 2022 Olympics after several contenders withdrew lacking public support for a project widely seen as too expensive.

Two European candidates for 2026 remain after contenders including Graz, Austria; Calgary, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; and Sion, Switzerland, all dropped out. The IOC also eliminated the Turkish bid of Erzurum from the contest.

MORE: IOC proposes Olympic ‘host’ can be multiple countries

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

‘Lance Armstrong: Next Stage’ to debut on NBCSN

2 Comments

NBCSN will broadcast an interview with Lance Armstrong on Wednesday following Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

In a 30-minute special, Armstrong will discuss his career with Mike Tirico in “Lance Armstrong: Next Stage.”

The interview covers the doping culture within cycling when he competed, Armstrong’s separation from the Livestrong Foundation that supports people with cancer and what’s next for him.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Armstrong told Tirico. “I wouldn’t change the way I acted. I mean I would, but this is a longer answer. Primarily, I wouldn’t change the lessons that I’ve learned. I don’t learn all the lessons if I don’t act that way. I don’t get investigated and sanctioned if I don’t act the way I acted. If I just doped and didn’t say a thing, none of that would have happened. None of it. I was begging for, I was asking for them to come after me. It was an easy target.”

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping by the International Cycling Union in 2012.

He tells Tirico, “We did what we had to do to win. It wasn’t legal, but I wouldn’t change a thing — whether it’s losing a bunch of money, going from hero to zero.”

MORE: Lance Armstrong’s former team director banned for life

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!