Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka Defeated in Third Round of French Open

PARIS — Maybe it was the daunting deficit Serena Williams faced in the French Open’s third round. Maybe it was the way her 20-year-old American opponent, Sofia Kenin, was questioning line calls.

Either way, as Williams attempted to start a comeback Saturday with a three-ace game, she followed those big serves with some serious staredowns.

Whether it was meant to get herself going or intimidate Kenin, it didn’t work. Outplayed from start to finish, Williams lost 6-2, 7-5 to the 35th-ranked Kenin, ending her latest bid for a 24th Grand Slam title with her earliest loss at a major tournament in five years.

“In that first set in particular, she hit pretty much inches from the line, and I haven’t played anyone like that in a long time,” the 37-year-old Williams said. “I just saw a player that was playing unbelievable.”

It was the second significant surprise in a matter of hours: Earlier in the day, No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka was eliminated 6-4, 6-2 by 42nd-ranked Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic. That ended Osaka’s 16-match Grand Slam winning streak, which included titles at the U.S. Open final in September — when she beat Williams in the final — and at the Australian Open in January.

Osaka was trying to become the first woman to win three consecutive major trophies since Williams grabbed four in a row in 2014-15, a run that was preceded by a second-round loss at Roland Garros and a third-round loss at Wimbledon.

Since those early-for-her defeats, Williams had won six of the 14 majors she entered to surpass Steffi Graf’s professional-era record of 22 Grand Slam singles championships. With 23, Williams stands one away from Margaret Court’s mark for the most in tennis history; Court played in both the professional and amateur eras.

“Serena is such a tough player. I’m still trying to process what just happened,” Kenin said, about an hour after the match ended with her covering her face with both hands. “She’s a true champion and an inspiration.”

Kenin was born in Moscow and is fluent in Russian. Her family moved to New York when she was a baby, and she now is based in Florida.

“I’m proud to be an American,” said Kenin, who wore a blue U.S. Fed Cup cap to her news conference. “I think it’s great we moved to America for a better life for me.”

She is appearing in the ninth major of her career and now is headed to her initial trip to the round of 16, where she’ll meet No. 8 seed Ash Barty. Other women’s fourth-round matchups established Saturday: defending champion Simona Halep vs. 18-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland; No. 14 Madison Keys of the U.S. vs. Sinikiakova; 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. vs. qualifier Aliona Bolsova of Spain.

Williams sat out four Slams in 2017-18 while she was off the tour to have a baby. Her first major back was last year’s French Open, where she withdrew before a fourth-round match because of a chest muscle injury. She went on to reach the finals of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before wasting match points during a quarterfinal loss at the Australian Open this January.

Williams came to Paris having played only four matches since then — she withdrew from two tournaments because of an injured left knee and another because of illness.

And she had said she considered not entering the French Open at all.

“I’m glad I came, at the end of the day,” she said, “but it’s been a really grueling season for me.”

Asked whether a third-round appearance was satisfactory, given her issues, Williams not surprisingly said it was not.

“I wouldn’t expect to have gotten only to the third round,” she replied.

Said her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou: “All I know is, she was not ready. And it was obvious, I think.”

Williams couldn’t control her shots, compiling 34 unforced errors, twice as many as Kenin’s 17. Another key statistic: Kenin won four of Williams’ 10 service games.

Kenin also was composed as can be, never getting rattled by Williams or by a Court Philippe Chatrier crowd that whistled and jeered her for repeatedly eyeing ball marks to see whether calls were correct.

“I didn’t care at that point,” Kenin said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to check the mark.’”

After Williams showed fight by going from 3-1 down to 4-3 ahead in the second set, Kenin hung in there. At 5-all, she got the last break she’d need with a forehand return winner off a 102 mph (164 kph) serve.

She ran to her sideline seat and pressed a towel against her face.

There was one last pivotal moment: Serving for the victory, Kenin faced a break point, but Williams’ miscue let it go by. One last error by Williams — a backhand that sailed long — ended things.

Kenin dealt so well with the stakes, the scene, the setting.

She’d never shared a court with Williams before, although Kenin did try to set up a practice session during the offseason by texting Mouratoglou.

Didn’t work out.

“Yeah, I tried to hit with her. It wasn’t possible, but I’ll take that,” Kenin said with a smile. “I’ll take the win over the hitting.”

Sports – TIME

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ICYMI: Actually Cute Work Bags, Serena Williams’s Sartorial Clapback & Gucci Takes On Reproductive Rights

Sure, we’re all glued to our phones/tablets/laptops/watches that barely tell time, but even the best of us miss out on some important #content from time to time. That’s why, in case you missed it, we’ve rounded up our most popular stories of the week to help you stay in the loop. No need to thank …

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Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka Defeated in Third Round of French Open

PARIS — Maybe it was the daunting deficit Serena Williams faced in the French Open’s third round. Maybe it was the way her 20-year-old American opponent, Sofia Kenin, was questioning line calls.

Either way, as Williams attempted to start a comeback Saturday with a three-ace game, she followed those big serves with some serious staredowns.

Whether it was meant to get herself going or intimidate Kenin, it didn’t work. Outplayed from start to finish, Williams lost 6-2, 7-5 to the 35th-ranked Kenin, ending her latest bid for a 24th Grand Slam title with her earliest loss at a major tournament in five years.

“In that first set in particular, she hit pretty much inches from the line, and I haven’t played anyone like that in a long time,” the 37-year-old Williams said. “I just saw a player that was playing unbelievable.”

It was the second significant surprise in a matter of hours: Earlier in the day, No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka was eliminated 6-4, 6-2 by 42nd-ranked Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic. That ended Osaka’s 16-match Grand Slam winning streak, which included titles at the U.S. Open final in September — when she beat Williams in the final — and at the Australian Open in January.

Osaka was trying to become the first woman to win three consecutive major trophies since Williams grabbed four in a row in 2014-15, a run that was preceded by a second-round loss at Roland Garros and a third-round loss at Wimbledon.

Since those early-for-her defeats, Williams had won six of the 14 majors she entered to surpass Steffi Graf’s professional-era record of 22 Grand Slam singles championships. With 23, Williams stands one away from Margaret Court’s mark for the most in tennis history; Court played in both the professional and amateur eras.

“Serena is such a tough player. I’m still trying to process what just happened,” Kenin said, about an hour after the match ended with her covering her face with both hands. “She’s a true champion and an inspiration.”

Kenin was born in Moscow and is fluent in Russian. Her family moved to New York when she was a baby, and she now is based in Florida.

“I’m proud to be an American,” said Kenin, who wore a blue U.S. Fed Cup cap to her news conference. “I think it’s great we moved to America for a better life for me.”

She is appearing in the ninth major of her career and now is headed to her initial trip to the round of 16, where she’ll meet No. 8 seed Ash Barty. Other women’s fourth-round matchups established Saturday: defending champion Simona Halep vs. 18-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland; No. 14 Madison Keys of the U.S. vs. Sinikiakova; 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. vs. qualifier Aliona Bolsova of Spain.

Williams sat out four Slams in 2017-18 while she was off the tour to have a baby. Her first major back was last year’s French Open, where she withdrew before a fourth-round match because of a chest muscle injury. She went on to reach the finals of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before wasting match points during a quarterfinal loss at the Australian Open this January.

Williams came to Paris having played only four matches since then — she withdrew from two tournaments because of an injured left knee and another because of illness.

And she had said she considered not entering the French Open at all.

“I’m glad I came, at the end of the day,” she said, “but it’s been a really grueling season for me.”

Asked whether a third-round appearance was satisfactory, given her issues, Williams not surprisingly said it was not.

“I wouldn’t expect to have gotten only to the third round,” she replied.

Said her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou: “All I know is, she was not ready. And it was obvious, I think.”

Williams couldn’t control her shots, compiling 34 unforced errors, twice as many as Kenin’s 17. Another key statistic: Kenin won four of Williams’ 10 service games.

Kenin also was composed as can be, never getting rattled by Williams or by a Court Philippe Chatrier crowd that whistled and jeered her for repeatedly eyeing ball marks to see whether calls were correct.

“I didn’t care at that point,” Kenin said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to check the mark.’”

After Williams showed fight by going from 3-1 down to 4-3 ahead in the second set, Kenin hung in there. At 5-all, she got the last break she’d need with a forehand return winner off a 102 mph (164 kph) serve.

She ran to her sideline seat and pressed a towel against her face.

There was one last pivotal moment: Serving for the victory, Kenin faced a break point, but Williams’ miscue let it go by. One last error by Williams — a backhand that sailed long — ended things.

Kenin dealt so well with the stakes, the scene, the setting.

She’d never shared a court with Williams before, although Kenin did try to set up a practice session during the offseason by texting Mouratoglou.

Didn’t work out.

“Yeah, I tried to hit with her. It wasn’t possible, but I’ll take that,” Kenin said with a smile. “I’ll take the win over the hitting.”

Sports – TIME

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‘Champion,’ ‘Queen,’ ‘Goddess,’ ‘Mother’: Serena Williams’ Powerful Message at The French Open

Jean Catuffe/Getty

It did not matter that the three-piece Virgil Abloh x Nike outfit Serena Williams posted on Instagram before the French Open looked entirely impractical to play tennis in. The athlete’s fans agreed: it was a winner.

Before earning her 800th tour-level win on May 27, Williams put on a tiered maxi skirt, long robe, and sports bra. Printed onto her zebra printed ensemble were the words “Champion,” “Queen,” “Goddess,” “Mother.”

The Nike ambassador matched her floor-grazing skirt with chunky sneakers, as she did at this year’s Met Gala and her 2017 wedding to Alexis Ohanian.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Serena Williams Storms Back to Win French Open Match After Losing First Set

(PARIS) — This was one mistake too far for Serena Williams.

Sure, the bad backhand put her behind only 15-30 at the outset of the second set of her opening match at Roland Garros on Monday. What made the miscue so bothersome? She’d already dropped the first set against 83rd-ranked Vitalia Diatchenko — and Williams’ unforced error total already was at 15 on a windy evening.

So she reacted by throwing her head back and letting out a scream. Then she stepped to the baseline to serve and stomped her right foot. And simple as that, Williams righted herself: She won 11 of the next 13 points, and 12 of 13 games the rest of the way, to come back for a disappointing-to-dominant 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory at the French Open.

“I just was so frustrated at that point, because I have been training well. The past week and a half has been really good, and, God, it was, like, ‘This isn’t the Serena I have been practicing with — or that I see every day,” Williams said afterward. “I just let out this roar, and here I am. Yeah, so maybe that helped.”

She arrived on court with a black-and-white jacket bearing words such as “champion,” “queen,” “goddess” and “mother” in French.

“Those are things that mean a lot to me and reminders for me — and for everyone that wants to wear it,” Williams explained. “Just remind everyone that they can be champions and are queens.”

A reporter told Williams those four words are “a lot to carry,” to which the 37-year-old American replied: “It is a lot to carry, but so is being Serena Williams.”

She made her return to Grand Slam competition in Paris a year ago after missing five majors because of the birth of her first child. Williams pulled out before the fourth round because of an injured chest muscle, then was the runner-up at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Williams came to Paris this time having withdrawn from each of her past two tournaments because of a balky left knee, and the one before that because of illness. She had played only nine matches all season, and so her pursuit of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title — fourth at Roland Garros — seemed no sure thing.

That goal seemed even further from her grasp with the way things began in Court Philippe Chatrier against Diatchenko, a Russian who hits two-fisted shots off both sides and upset Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon last year.

“I just got nervous out there and I stopped moving my feet. And (it) was, like, concrete blocks on my feet. I was like, ‘You got to do something,’” Williams said. “I was just off, basically. And then instead of correcting it, I just kept getting worse.”

Could the nearly impossible happen? Could Williams lose in the first round of a major? She’d only done so once before in 70 Slam appearances — and that happened at the French Open, in 2012.

But once Williams recalibrated everything, she took charge.

One of her good friends, and another former No. 1-ranked player, Caroline Wozniacki, went in the opposite direction Monday, going from playing a perfect set to quickly fading away against an opponent who never previously had won a Grand Slam match.

In a performance emblematic of a difficult season, last year’s Australian Open champion bowed out in the first round 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 to 68th-ranked Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.

“Definitely wasn’t the best match I’ve ever played,” said the 13th-seeded Wozniacki, who had only 15 winners to Kudermetova’s 40.

The way-up-then-way-down showing by Wozniacki stretched her losing streak to four matches.

Other seeded players exiting on Day 2 included No. 12 Daniil Medvedev, No. 15 Nikoloz Basilashvili, No. 20 Denis Shapovalov and No. 32 Frances Tiafoe on the men’s side, along with No. 18 Julia Goerges on the women’s.

Tiafoe, a quarterfinalist at the Australian Open in January, threw up a couple of times and his game came apart late in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 loss to Filip Krajinovic of Serbia.

“Obviously very depleted and had nothing really in me,” said Tiafoe, now 0-4 at Roland Garros.

Before Williams took over the main stadium, Rafael Nadal began his bid for a record 12th championship in Paris and Novak Djokovic got started on his quest for a fourth consecutive major trophy. Both won in straight sets.

When it was Williams’ turn, she needed a bit to get going.

After 14 unforced errors in the first set alone, she had six in the second, four in the third. Her winner count went the other way: from five in the first set to nine in the second to 11 in the third. After dealing with five break points in the first set, Williams never faced another.

Diatchenko sat at changeovers with a towel covering her head, as if embarrassed to be seen there.

At the beginning of the match, Diatchenko said, “I was No. 1 between us.”

But as things progressed, a better version of Williams emerged.

“With Serena, you have to play not 100%. You have to play 150,” Diatchenko said. “Always.”

After committing 14 unforced errors in the first set, Williams had a total of 10 in the second and third sets.

Afterward, Williams seemed more relieved than pleased at avoiding what would have been only the second loss of her career in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament — after her defeat to Virginie Razzano at Roland Garros in 2012.

Sports – TIME

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Serena Williams Makes Powerful Fashion Statement at French Open

A year after having her tennis outfit banned at the French Open, Serena Williams had something to communicate through her look for the 2019 tournament — literally.
At the 2018 French Open, the 23-time Grand Slam winner made headlines for wearing a Nike compression catsuit to compete on the tennis court. While Williams wore the sleek one-piece outfit to help prevent blood clots that she developed after giving birth to her nine-month-old daughter, Olympia, the French Tennis Federation took issue with the fashion statement, banning the look in a new dress code issued after the match.
Undeterred from pushing the fashion boundaries, Williams, who has her own fashion label, returned to the French Open on Monday in an equally headline-making look, this time a Virgil Abloh-designed black-and-white Nike outfit with a jacket emblazoned with the words “champion,” “queen” and “goddess.” Many are seeing Williams’ sartorial choice as a rebuttal to the ban on her catsuit.

Serena Williams in Nike at the French Open 2018. 
Dave Shopland/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

On the 2018 dress code drama, Williams commented last May to reporters: “I feel like if and when, or if they know that some things are for health reasons, then there’s no way that they wouldn’t be OK with

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Serena Williams Withdraws From Italian Open Prior to Match vs. Venus Due to Knee Injury

Serena Williams is withdrawing from her third consecutive tournament, this time because of a left knee injury.

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Serena Williams Sings Karaoke After Pulling Out Of Tennis Match Due To Illness [Video]

Serena Williams belted out Ricky Martin’s classic Livin La Vida Loca just days after suffering dizziness and fatigue. Her illness cost her another shot at her first title since returning to the tournament circuit.

Williams and a group of friends reportedly sang karaoke tunes Wednesday night into Thursday morning at Neil’s Lounge in Indio, CA.

A rep for the bar tells The Blast they were very happy Williams came in, and hope she had a good time unwinding with her friends.

According to The Blast the girls sang a hit from the Spice Girls.

As for her drink of choice while singing, she was reportedly sipping on Cazadores tequila.

Williams is a huge karaoke fan, and says she regularly seeks out bars to sing her heart out ahead of big tournaments.

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Will Smith Wants To Play Venus & Serena Williams’ Father In New Film, Black Twitter Has Questions

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Source: Jim Spellman / Getty

Will Smith could be this close to signing up for one of his biggest roles yet!

According to Deadline, the 50-year-old actor is poised to play Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, in the upcoming film King Richard

Based on 2018 The Black List runner up script by Zach Baylin, King Richard centers on the real-life father who with no tennis background coached his girls into becoming tennis icons, with his youngest Serena winning 23 Grand Slam titles.

As Deadline noted, “when his daughters were around the age of four, Richard Williams drew up a 78-page plan for their professional tennis careers. He began giving them tennis lessons and the girls learned the game on cracked, weedy public courts in Compton, reportedly after their father brawled with young toughs who were not fans of the sport and would not make way.”

It’s unclear when the film will go into production, but what we do know is that Tim White and Trevor White will produce the film under Star Thrower Entertainment, alongside Smith and his Overbrook Entertainment banner, Deadline wrote.

Granted, there are plenty of people excited to see Will take on such a misunderstood and powerful character, but it is hard to ignore the questions and concerns folks about this casting, especially around Will and Richard’s contrasting skin tones.

Here’s what some of Black Twitter had to say:

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That Controversial Serena Williams Cartoon Wasn’t Racist, Australia’s Media Watchdog Says

(SYDNEY) — A media watchdog has ruled that a cartoon of tennis star Serena Williams, which attracted global condemnation after being published by Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, was not in breach of the Australian Press Council’s standards of practice.

The depiction of Williams by cartoonist Mark Knight last September showed her reacting angrily to her loss to Naomi Osaka in the final of the U.S. Open. Williams is depicted with her mouth open wide, hands in fists and jumping above a broken tennis racket and a baby’s pacifier. In the background an umpire says to a player on the opposite side of the net, “Can you just let her win?”

Critics condemned the cartoon as racist and sexist.

In a ruling published Monday, the Australian Press Council said it “acknowledged that some readers found the cartoon offensive” but said there was sufficient public interest in commenting on the behavior of a player with a globally high profile.

“The council considered that the cartoon uses exaggeration and absurdity to make its point but accepts the publisher’s claim that it does not depict Ms Williams as an ape, rather showing her as ‘spitting the dummy’, a non-racist caricature familiar to most Australian readers.”

Spitting the dummy is an Australian term for a tantrum.

The Herald Sun said the cartoon used “satire, caricature, exaggeration, and humor” to depict an event of public interest.

Sports – TIME

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Serena Williams Serves Up Another Directorship: She Joins Poshmark’s Board of Directors

Serena Williams is flexing her influential muscles by adding another directorship under her belt—she has joined the board of directors of online social retail and reselling platform, Poshmark. This is Williams’s second directorship. In 2017, she joined the board of the online survey giant, SurveyMonkey.

The entrepreneur and sports icon is the first African American and first woman on Poshmark’s board. She will help guide the social commerce company in its plans for increased growth.

Poshmark announced her appointment to their board of directors on Wednesday, with founder and CEO Manish Chandra championing Williams as a welcome addition and a great fit for the company given her entrepreneurial prowess and passion.

“Poshmark was built by a community of strong, independent women just like Serena Williams,” said Manish Chandra, founder & CEO of Poshmark in a press release. “As both our company and community continue to grow, it’s important that we bring smart and diverse new voices to the table, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about what the future holds with Serena in our corner.”

The California-based online marketplace is powered by a community of 40 million people selling and buying used items. The platform currently hosts more than 75 million listings and also serves as a place where users can showcase their personal style. Since its founding in 2011, Poshmark says that it has distributed over $ 1 billion to its community of sellers.

Williams launched her own clothing line, SERENA, in 2018. This launch put her on Poshmark’s radar for potential involvement, and the company envisioned her to be a natural fit as it scales up its social commerce platform. Williams also saw this as an opportunity to make yet another impact.

“Poshmark is disrupting retail by making shopping and selling social again, and I love working with a company that gives anyone an opportunity to become an entrepreneur,” Williams said in a press release.

In a video about the announcement, Williams said she is excited to join Poshmark because the company speaks to her core values. “For me it was a no-brainer,” she said. Williams stated that she was already a Poshmark user for years, mostly as a buyer. But now she will officially become a seller on the platform.

In addition to joining Poshmark’s board, she is also launching a Posh Closet for Charity, benefiting the nonprofit she started in 2016, The Yetunde Price Resource Center, based in her Compton, California, hometown.

It’s a cause that’s dear to her: Empowering victims of violence by enabling them to receive access to resources that foster healing, resiliency, personal growth and transformation. The Yetunde Price Resource Center, the namesake of the Williams’s oldest sister, Yetunde, who was tragically killed by an act of violence in 2003, works with partner organizations to offer trauma-informed programs, including health and mental health providers, schools, and art therapy.

Fans will have the opportunity to shop clothing worn by Williams in her Posh Closet for Charity, including the floral kimono she wore to the 2017 French Open, dresses worn on the red carpet, a custom-made Gucci jacket, and many more items.

She will be donating all of her proceeds to the Yetunde​ ​Price Resource Center​. Those interested in shopping Serena’s closet, can check out https://posh.mk/SerenaWilliams​.

Below, see the reasons behind why Serena feels strongly about the company as she and Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra sit down to discuss her appointment to the board.

The post Serena Williams Serves Up Another Directorship: She Joins Poshmark’s Board of Directors appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Serena Williams Knocked Out of Australian Open by Karolina Pliskova

(MELBOURNE) — Serena Williams was one point — just one — from quite a comeback victory in the Australian Open quarterfinals when she turned her left ankle.

Everything unraveled from there.

In a startling reversal and result, Williams wasted four match points along the way to dropping the last six games of a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 loss to No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

“I was almost in the locker room,” Pliskova told the Rod Laver Arena crowd, “but now I’m standing here as the winner.”

So instead of Williams moving closer to an eighth championship at the Australian Open and record-tying 24th Grand Slam title overall, it is Pliskova who will continue her pursuit of her first major trophy.

In the semifinals, Pliskova will face No. 4-seeded Naomi Osaka, who advanced by beating No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-1 earlier Wednesday. The other women’s semifinal will be two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova against unseeded American Danielle Collins.

In the men’s quarterfinals Wednesday, 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic met No. 28 Lucas Pouille, before 14-time major champion Novak Djokovic was scheduled to face 2014 U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori.

Williams’ surprising departure scuttled what would have been a much-anticipated rematch against Osaka, who beat her in the chaotic U.S. Open final last September.

This defeat is the earliest in Australia for Williams since a fourth-round loss to Ana Ivanovic in 2014. Since then, she had won the tournament in 2015, lost in the final in 2016, and won again in 2017 while pregnant, before missing last year’s edition a few months after the birth of her daughter.

The 37-year-old American’s match against Pliskova was played under a stifling sun, with the temperature around 80 degrees (25 Celsius), and Williams — coming off an intense three-set victory over No. 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round — often stepped into the patches of shade behind each baseline.

She did not start well, not well at all. Her mistakes were mounting and deficit was growing.

In the first set alone, Williams made more than twice as many unforced errors as her opponent, 11-5, a pattern that would continue throughout. By the end, the margin was 37-15.

Looking increasingly frustrated, Williams would yell at herself after mistakes or gesture as if to say, “That’s NOT how I should be hitting the ball!” Add it all up, and Pliskova led by a set and a break at 3-2 in the second.

Only then did Williams seem to get going. From there, she immediately earned her first break point of the match and converted it to get to 3-all, beginning a run in which she claimed nine of 11 games.

“I was a little bit too passive,” Pliskova said about that section of the match. “Obviously mentally down.”

And then it all changed. Serving for the victory at 5-1, 40-30, Williams was called for a foot fault — reminiscent of an infamous such ruling at the U.S. Open a decade ago. During the ensuing point Wednesday, Williams twisted her left ankle and dumped a forehand into the net.

She grabbed at her foot afterward, and would go on to cede that game.

Not a big deal, right? She still had a sizable lead.

Except three more match points would follow, and Pliskova staved off each one.

Williams would again serve for the match at 5-3 — and again get broken. The owner of the most feared and respected serve in women’s tennis was broken for a third time in a row at 5-all, and Pliskova was on her way.

“She got a little bit shaky in the end,” Pliskova said. “So I took my chances. And I won.”

Osaka will carry a 12-match Grand Slam winning streak into the semifinals.

The 21-year-old from Japan moved closer to a second consecutive major championship by parlaying her aggressive and powerful style into a 31-11 edge in winners against Svitolina.

“For me, right now, I just try to keep looking forward. So I’m not really satisfied. Like, I am happy that I’m here, but at the same time, I want to keep going,” said Osaka, who never had been past the fourth round at the Australian Open. “There is more matches to win.”

Sports – TIME

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Serena Williams Returns to Australian Open With Clinical Win

(MELBOURNE, Australia) — Serena Williams jumped straight back in where she left off at the Australian Open, returning for the first time since winning the title in 2017 when she was pregnant with her first child.

Williams conceded only five points in the first set and was completely clinical in a 6-0, 6-2 win over Tatjana Maria, another mom who lives close to Williams in Florida and visits for play dates with their daughters.

It was overwhelming for Maria, who got just two of her first serves into play in the first set and didn’t have game points until she held in the fourth game of the second set. She was in tears as the pair hugged at the net following the match, and Williams joined the crowd in giving the German player a clap as she left the arena.

“Yeah, I think the last time I was here, I was pregnant and playing at the same time — which is insane,” Williams said. “It’s kind of weird walking back on, by myself this time.”

Williams considers the 2017 victory here among the best of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles, giving everything that was going on. Since returning to the tour following the birth of Alexis Olympia, Williams hasn’t added to her list of majors, having lost the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“Literally the best win of my career,” she recalled Tuesday in a post-match TV interview. “Just exciting to be back.”

At Melbourne Park, she’s now on an eight-match winning streak. She’s only lost one of her last 22 matches at the season-opening major, which she has won seven times.

The 37-year-old Williams said she loves to test herself early in the year after practicing “hard for that first hit.”

“I like to jump into the deep end and swim,” she said.

The 16th-seeded Williams will face either Eugenie Bouchard or wild-card entry Peng Shuai in the second round.

Madison Keys opened her season with a 6-2, 6-2 win over 18-year-old wild-card entry Destanee Aiava in the first match on Rod Laver Arena on Day 2.

“I expected it to be tough — obviously playing an Aussie on Rod Laver,” Keys told the crowd. “Thanks for the love, anyway.”

She broke Aiava’s serve four times and fended off the only break-point chance she faced. Aaiva, who was the first player born in this century to play in the main draw of a major when she got a wild card here in 2017, didn’t help herself with six double-faults.

The No. 17-seeded Keys has reached the semifinals or better at three of the last five Grand Slam tournaments, and her focus is on the bigger prizes for now.

“I was having issues with my knee at the end of the year (and) ran out of time to be ready for Brisbane — wanted to be 100 percent for here,” she said of her recent lack of competitive matches. “It’s my first match of the year, so mostly just happy I did everything pretty well.”

Seventh-seeded Karolina Pliskova won the Brisbane International title in the first week of the season and continued her streak by beating fellow Czech Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-2 to progress to the second round. No. 12 Elise Mertens and No. 21 Qiang Wang also advanced.

Kei Nishikori is feeling a little bit liberated after having to come back from two sets down to beat Kamil Majchrzak in a difficult opener.

The eighth-seeded Nishikori won 10 consecutive games after losing the second set in a tiebreaker and took 15 of the last 17 games before Majchrzak retired with an injury with the score at 3-6, 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-2, 3-0 at Margaret Court Arena.

“He was playing amazing tennis,” Nishikori said. “I have to be happy going to the next round — I almost lost in the first round, so I have to be positive and get better.”

Among the other men advancing were Ryan Harrison, who beat Jiri Vesely 6-0, 7-5, 6-3, No. 12 Fabio Fognini and No. 15 Daniil Medvedev.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Sam Querrey 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-1.

The temperature was already 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) when play began on all courts shortly after 11 a.m. local time and it rose to 33 C (91 F) by the early afternoon.

Sports – TIME

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Roger Federer Says It’s ‘Exciting’ to Face Serena Williams in New Year’s Day Match-Up

(PERTH, Australia) — Roger Federer’s wish is about to be granted — he’s getting the chance to return Serena Williams’ powerful serve.

The famously unflappable Swiss acknowledges being excited about the prospect of taking on his fellow tennis great on Tuesday in a Hopman Cup mixed doubles match between Switzerland and the United States.

“I admire everything she has done both on and off the court,” Federer said. “I have always thought how is it to return that serve and go head-to-head with her.”

Federer made an impressive start in preparation for his Australian Open title defense with a seemingly effortless 6-1, 6-1 victory over Cameron Norrie on Sunday.

His playing partner Belinda Bencic also won to seal defending champion Switzerland’s victory over Britain in Group B.

Federer and Bencic will next take on Williams and Frances Tiafoe to kick-start the New Year with arguably the most anticipated match in the tournament’s three-decade history.

Tickets were sold out soon after being released for the showpiece encounter, which pits Federer and Williams on court for the first time. The 37-year-olds have won 43 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

“It’s very exciting for us. I hope tennis fans tune in and watch it because it’s going to be one time and probably never again in this type of competition,” Federer said.

By most people’s standards, the two stars have an unusual meeting place.

“I don’t know her that well. I only know her from some champions’ dinners at Wimbledon,” Federer said. “We have busy lives and a big entourage, so it’s rare to really deep dive. We can relate to each other more so now, being parents.”

Federer will head into the clash in form after a masterclass 57-minute thrashing of Norrie. The 20-time Grand Slam champion moved around the court well and hit the ball crisply to overwhelm Norrie.

“I was very happy that I was able to come out tonight and put in a good performance,” Federer said. “I was happy with all aspects of my game: footwork, offensive play, serve, return. It was all there.”

Sports – TIME

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Magazine under fire over Serena Williams cover

GQ Magazine is facing backlash after a cover showcasing professional tennis player Serena Williams, who was named GQ’s Woman of the Year, had the word “woman” in quotes.


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