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In contrasting fashion, Djokovic, Muguruza advance in Paris

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PARIS — One struggled, the other had a stroll in the park.

In contrasting fashion, defending champions Novak Djokovic and Garbine Muguruza both advanced to the third round at the French Open on Wednesday.

Second-seeded Djokovic barely put a foot wrong in a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over Joao Sousa, while Muguruza had to dig deep to avoid becoming the first reigning champion at Roland Garros to lose in the second round since 2014, when she upset Serena Williams.

The fourth-seeded Muguruza was made to work hard for more than two hours on the Philippe Chatrier show court before rallying past 53rd-ranked Anett Kontaveit 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2.

Playing at Roland Garros for the 20th time, a record in the Open era, Venus Williams also reached the third round after defeating Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-3, 6-1.

As often in Paris, Djokovic spoke in French during his on-court interview, and joked.

“I’m sorry for my French, my teacher is on holiday,” he said.

On a more serious note, Djokovic said he was pleased with his form after coming through some difficult times since completing a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros last year.

“I felt better than in the first round, that’s exactly what I wanted,” he said.

After dropping the opening set against Kontaveit, Muguruza was down a break in the second before coming back. Playing close to the lines, she got back into her stride and took the decider in 32 minutes on the first of two match points.

“I think she was playing so, so good for the first two sets,” Muguruza said. “I was just hanging in there, being aggressive and waiting for my moment.”

Earlier in the day, Petra Kvitova’s first tournament since being injured in a knife attack at her home was brought to an early end.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, who was seeded 15th, lost 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Kvitova threw her racket in frustration after double-faulting on match point, but the players warmly embraced at the net.

Kvitova returned to tennis in Paris after being attacked in the Czech Republic in December.

Home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also exited the tournament, unable to turn around a first-round match against Roland Garros debutant Renzo Olivo that had been suspended on Tuesday due to darkness.

Back on court with the 12th-seeded Tsonga trailing 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 5-4, the Frenchman lasted less than eight minutes, losing the first three points on his serve but managing to save the three match points. Olivo converted the next one with a forehand crosscourt winner to prevail 6-4.

Tsonga had never lost to a player ranked as low as No. 91 at a Grand Slam.

There was also an unexpected visitor at the French Open, Serena Williams.

The winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles is not playing for the rest of this season because she is pregnant. Williams found a seat in the shade at Court Philippe Chatrier during her older sister Venus’ match against Nara.

Serena Williams’ baby is due in the fall. She has said she will return to the tour in 2018.

 

‘Big 4’ given top 4 seedings at Wimbledon; Kerber also No. 1

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LONDON — The “Big 4” of men’s tennis were given the four highest seedings for this year’s tournament at Wimbledon.

No. 1-ranked Andy Murray, the defending champion, is the top-seeded player, followed by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Nadal and Djokovic are also in the top four of the ATP rankings, but Federer is No. 5. Third-ranked Stan Wawrinka, who has won the other three Grand Slam titles but not Wimbledon, is seeded fifth.

Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Alexander Zverev round out the top 10 in the seedings.

In the women’s seedings, Angelique Kerber is No. 1 in a list that mirrors the top-10 rankings. The only exception is the absence of No. 4-ranked Serena Williams, who is pregnant and skipping the tournament.

That means fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina is the fourth-seeded player at Wimbledon, behind Kerber, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova.

Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dominika Cibulkova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams complete the top 10 in the seedings.

Serena bares all in Vanity Fair cover shoot

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After accidentally revealing her pregnancy through Snapchat back in April, Serena Williams has not been shy about sharing her pregnancy with the public. In fact, Williams bares all in the cover of Vanity Fair’s August issue, wearing only the same waist chain she wore in that Snapchat.

The cover photo she tweeted Tuesday shows the tennis star’s full-body profile. Taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, the photographs of Williams’ baby bump are surrounded by earthly hues of grey and burnt orange. Her fiancé, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, stepped in for a couple photos, embracing his future wife.

As carefree as she looks in these pictures, Williams probably hasn’t been having the best week after tennis legend John McEnroe questioned her athleticism when compared to men. McEnroe said in an interview with NPR earlier this week that Williams – a 23-time Grand Slam singles winner –  would rank “like 700” on the men’s tour. When he came on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday morning, McEnroe stated his confusion over why his comment on Williams was a big deal: “Why is it always McEnroe that gets caught in the middle of this? It drives me crazy.”

Williams, an active Twitter user, responded to his comments:

Williams’ baby, which she has yet to find out the sex of, is due this fall.