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Nadal retires in 3rd set at Miami Open against Dzumhur

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Rafael Nadal slumped in a changeover chair, the blood pressure gauge strapped to his mighty left arm serving as a scoreboard.

He was on the verge of defeat, and a few points later he retired from a match for the first time in six years.

Nadal faded in the subtropical heat and conceded after falling behind in the third set of his opening match Saturday at the Miami Open against Damir Dzumhur.

The No. 5-seeded Nadal trailed 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 when he called it quits after losing a point to fall behind 30-15. He had earlier consulted with a trainer between games three times, and had his blood pressure checked.

Nadal said he started feeling badly at the end of the first set.

“It was getting worse and worse and worse,” the Spaniard said. “I get a little bit scared – too dizzy. I felt I was not safe, so I decided to go. I wanted to finish the match, but I seriously couldn’t.”

His departure left the draw without three of the five highest-seeded men. No. 4 Stan Wawrinka lost to Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-3, and No. 3 Roger Federer withdrew Friday because of a stomach virus.

Eight-time champion Serena Williams avoided the upset bug and seemed unfazed by the weather. The South Floridian earned her 20th consecutive victory at Key Biscayne and reached the fourth round by beating Zarina Diyas 7-5, 6-3.

“I live down the street, and I’m used to these conditions,” she said. “Even though it was a little humid, I’m used to it and I love this weather.”

Nadal’s match lasted less than two hours, but the temperature approached 90 degrees and was even higher on the sunbaked stadium hardcourt.

Nadal said he felt fine before the match and wasn’t sure whether he was contracting an illness.

“Hopefully it’s just the extreme conditions,” he said. “It’s tough for me, because I felt I was playing well. It’s a hard accident. That’s life.”

Nadal later pulled out of doubles.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t won a tournament since August. But it had been 443 matches since he retired – in the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinals against Andy Murray.

Key Biscayne remains one of the biggest tournaments Nadal has never won. He’s 0-4 in finals.

Dzumhur, a 23-year-old Bosnian ranked 94th, rallied with a variety of tactics, including half a dozen drop shots for winners and an occasional serve and volley. Nadal had to work hard from the start, failing to convert nine break-point chances during a marathon second game before Dzumhur double-faulted to lose serve.

The heat also appeared to bother the 154-pound Dzumhur, who consulted with a trainer following the first set.

Nadal finished 3 for 13 converting break points. Dzumhur was 4 for 4.

In other men’s play, No. 6 Kei Nishikori defeated qualifier Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 7-6 (4). No. 12 Milos Raonic, the runner-up at Indian Wells this month, beat Denis Kudla 7-6 (4), 6-4.

On the women’s side, No. 8 Petra Kvitova lost to No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-4. No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 champion, eliminated Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-2.

Tennis star Bouchard testifies about slip, fall at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Tennis star Eugenie Bouchard has taken the witness stand at a New York City trial to accuse the United States Tennis Association of negligence that led to her slipping on a locker room floor and hurting her head.

Bouchard testified Wednesday a wet floor caused her to slip and fall inside a locker room at the 2015 U.S. Open.

Her lawsuit contends the USTA should have done more to warn her the area had just been cleaned. The defense says she shouldn’t have entered without being accompanied by tournament personnel.

The lawsuit says the fall left Bouchard with a concussion and “serious head injury.”

Bouchard says she was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open and tournaments in China and Japan. She’s seeking unspecified damages.

The 23-year-old Canadian player is ranked 116th in the world.

Serena Williams champions issues on, off court

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Moments after Serena Williams won her seventh Wimbledon title, she proudly raised her fist in a black power salute.

It caused a bit of frenzy at the All-England Club in 2016, but Williams’ action shouldn’t have surprised anyone: She’d already been one of the most vocal supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. She was one of the first major athletes to decry the failure to indict a white officer in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – while also condemning violence against police.

“What caused me to speak out? Just life,” Williams said. “That’s just who I am. I always believe in the greater good and doing what’s right.”

Williams isn’t alone in her activism. Female athletes – especially black women – have long been out there pushing for social change. Wilma Rudolph’s victory parade celebrating her three gold medals from the 1960 Olympics in Rome was the first integrated event in Clarksville, Tennessee.

But despite their efforts on the field and off, women athletes have to struggle to get the same attention as men despite having as much to say, said Harry Edwards, a scholar of race and sports who has worked as a consultant for several U.S. pro teams.

“We have this twisted, almost-demented obsession with women’s second-class status with their physical inferiority,” he said. “It prevents us from appreciating the great athletes that they are … but it also means that it shuts down a potential forum that these great athletes would have where they’re valued for their athletic prowess in the same way that Muhammad Ali was, that Bill Russell was, that Tommy Smith and John Carlos were, that Arthur Ashe was, that Curt Flood was, so that when they speak, people listen.”

While Williams has long been an advocate of Black Lives Matter, it was only after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the 2016 season that the country really began to pay attention to black athlete activism. Kaepernick added his voice to a growing national movement, enveloping the entire league and starting an ongoing conversation that ventured outside football arenas.

Similarly, few people acknowledge that after the 2016 deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the killing of Dallas police officers, dozens of WNBA players wore shirts with the men’s names and kneeled for the national anthem.

It was a black woman, Knox College basketball player Ariyana Smith, who started the wave of athletic protest about the deaths of black men at the hands of police.

On Nov. 29, 2014, Smith made the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture during the national anthem before a game at Fontbonne University in Clayton, Missouri, before walking toward the American flag and laying prone on the floor for 4 1/2 minutes to symbolize the 4 + hours Brown lay in the streets of nearby Ferguson.

“We as black women are often invisible, so we don’t get that credit,” said Akilah Francique, a former athlete who cofounded the Sista to Sista program to foster a sense of connectedness among black female collegiate athletes.

Williams has been a presence on and off the tennis court, not shying away from opponents en route to winning 23 Grand Slam titles or social and political issues.

She spoke up in 2015, encouraging Black Lives Matter activists not to get discouraged: “To those of you involved in equality movements like Black Lives Matter, I say this: Keep it up. Don’t let those trolls stop you. We’ve been through so much for so many centuries, and we shall overcome this too,” she wrote in Wired magazine.

Since then, Williams has become the symbol for other causes affecting people of color, including medical issues. In February, she told Vogue that she dealt with a medical scare after the birth of her daughter. She had to insist on getting extra medical tests, overruling her nurse, before her doctors discovered several small blood clots in her lungs.

Women around the country related to her story, talking about similar difficulties in getting proper medical attention.

Female-led activism can also look different than men’s, Francique said, because of the unique positions and pressures women face in sports and in life. She pointed to the criticism black women athletes have to overcome about their body shapes, training regimens, skin color, clothing and even hair when they compete in sports – criticism that Williams has endured.

“For many of them just by merely being there and having a presence is activism,” Francique said.

Williams’ older sister, Venus, who has advocated for equal pay for professional tennis while winning seven Grand Slam titles, believes it is important to have a voice on these issues.

“I think more than anything, we see ourselves as Americans, and that’s what we want to be able to see ourselves as, regardless of color,” said Venus Williams. “I think that’s what everyone is fighting for, that one day we don’t have to see that anymore.”