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Publicist to AP: Venus Williams will play at Wimbledon

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LONDON — Venus Williams’ publicist says the five-time Wimbledon champion will play at the Grand Slam tournament after a police report emerged in Florida saying the tennis star caused a car crash that led to the death of a passenger in another vehicle.

Stephanie Jones confirmed in an email to The Associated Press on Friday that Williams is in London, where the year’s third major tennis tournament begins Monday.

Williams is seeded 10th at what will be her 20th Wimbledon. She won the title in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, and is the only past champion in the men’s or women’s fields who is not scheduled to appear at a pre-tournament news conference on Saturday or Sunday.

In Friday’s draw at the All England Club, the 37-year-old American was set up to play Elise Mertens of Belgium in the first round.

Police in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, say witnesses told investigators that Williams ran a red light in her 2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV on June 9, causing a crash that injured 78-year-old Jerome Barson, who died two weeks later.

Williams, who had lost in the fourth round of the French Open in Paris on June 4, told investigators she had entered the six-lane intersection on a green light but had been forced to stop midpoint by traffic ahead of her. She said she did not see the Barsons’ car when she crossed into their lanes.

Palm Beach Gardens Maj. Paul Rogers said the crash remains under investigation. Williams, who has a residence in Palm Beach Gardens, has not been cited or charged. The police report , released to the AP on Thursday, said Williams was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The report says a 2016 Hyundai Accent driven by Barson’s wife, Linda, crashed into the side of Williams’ SUV. Linda Barson told investigators that she was approaching the intersection when her light turned green and that she was unable to stop in time. Linda Barson suffered unspecified moderate injuries. Williams was not hurt.

An attorney for Williams, Malcolm Cunningham, said in a statement on Thursday that Williams expressed “her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one.”

Williams is a former No. 1-ranked player who owns a total of seven Grand Slam singles championships, including two at the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001, along with 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, all won with her younger sister, Serena.

Since revealing in 2011 that she had been diagnosed with Sjongren’s syndrome, which can cause joint pain and fatigue, Williams had a half-dozen losses in the first round at major tournaments, raising questions about whether she might consider retirement.

But a year ago at Wimbledon, at age 36, Venus Williams became the oldest woman in the semifinals at a major since 1994.

She continued her resurgence at the Australian Open this January, making it all the way to the final before losing to Serena, who earned her 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy.

Associated Press Writer Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.

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More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Nastase banned from Fed Cup and Davis Cup until 2019

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LONDON — Ilie Nastase has been banned from the Fed Cup and Davis Cup until 2019 because of his foul-mouthed comments and bad behavior as Romania’s captain during a Fed Cup match against Britain.

In addition to the ban, the International Tennis Federation said Friday the 1973 French Open champion will not be able to work in an official capacity for a further two years, until 2021.

The 71-year-old Nastase was also fined $10,000. He has three weeks to appeal the decision.

“Mr. Nastase made a comment about Serena Williams’s unborn child that was highly inappropriate and racially insensitive,” the ITF said.

Nastase also “made advances of a sexual nature towards Anne Keothavong, the captain of the Great Britain team” and “made abusive and threatening comments to the match officials and to members of the Great Britain team.”

Although he will have to sit out ITF events, the ban does not apply to Grand Slam, ATP or WTA tournaments, which are not under the governing body’s jurisdiction.

Nastase was provisionally suspended in April after he speculated about the skin color of the baby that Williams is expecting and for outbursts during a Fed Cup match between Romania and Britain.

He previously acknowledged making mistakes and having shortcomings, but stressed “the cause I fight for is tennis, the sport I really love, which I cannot separate from my life.”

As Fed Cup captain, Nastase hurled abuse at British player Johanna Konta, Keothavong and the umpire. The referee ejected Nastase.

Nastase, a former top-ranked player, was barred from the French Open and was not invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon, where he was a two-time finalist.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

World Cup of Tennis put on hold for at least a year

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LONDON–The International Tennis Federation is putting off its proposal for a World Cup of Tennis Finals for another year.

The ITF said last month it wanted to combine next year’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup finals into one event to raise the profile of the two national team competitions. But on Thursday, the governing body said it would not put the motion to a vote at its annual general meeting next month in Vietnam.

Other proposals, such as reducing the men’s matches to best-of-three sets and possibly skipping the final match of the series if it is already decided, will still go before member nations for ratification at the Aug. 4 meeting in Ho Chi Minh City.

“We promised change and are already delivering change with a significant series of reforms,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement. “Taking another year to build consensus around the World Cup of Tennis Finals will allow us to finalize an even stronger recommendation to the AGM.”

Last month, the ITF said it wanted to start staging the World Cup of Tennis in November 2018 in Geneva. The Swiss city was to host the event for three years at its 18,000-seat Palexpo.

The ITF said then that it had made the announcement of the host city well in advance in an effort to follow the successful model used by the Super Bowl and Champions League final.

But that has now been put on hold as the governing body tries to sell its idea to its voting members.

“This decision shows that we do not act unilaterally,” Haggerty said, “and are working with all our stakeholders to find the best solution for tennis.”

Haggerty also announced the creation of a World Cup of Tennis Finals task force. Board members Katrina Adams and Bernard Giudicelli have been appointed as co-chairs.

“The World Cup of Tennis Finals will unlock considerable new revenue for investing back into the sport through the ITF’s member nations,” Haggerty said. “Investment in the development of the next generation remains the priority of the ITF and its national associations.”