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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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6-time champ Djokovic loses at Miami Open to Benoit Paire

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Novak Djokovic’s 16-match Key Biscayne winning streak ended, and his struggle to overcome a bothersome right elbow continued.

Djokovic lasted barely an hour at a tournament he has won six times, losing his opening match Friday in the Miami Open to Benoit Paire, 6-3, 6-4.

The defeat was Djokovic’s third in a row. He returned from a six-month injury absence at the Australian Open and lost in the fourth round, and was upset two weeks ago at Indian Wells by Taro Daniel, a 109th-ranked qualifier.

Against the 47th-ranked Paire, Djokovic dropped serve four times, returned poorly and had difficulty anticipating his crafty opponent’s drop shots.

In women’s play, Naomi Osaka’s breakthrough winning streak ended with a loss to No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-2. Osaka said began feeling ill before the match but didn’t want to retire after upsetting eight-time champion Serena Williams in the first round.

The 20-year-old Osaka is ranked a career-high 22nd and won her first career title last week at Indian Wells.

Djokovic sat out the last half of 2017 because of problems with his racket-swinging arm, saying it had been bothering him for more than a year. He was sidelined again after this year’s Australian Open and said he had a “small medical intervention” on his elbow.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion didn’t seem to favor it against Paire, but his shots lacked their usually snap and sometimes were awkwardly struck, including the last two on match point.

In the first set Djokovic served with a chance to reach 5-all, but from 40-0 he lost five consecutive points and the set. Another dismal stretch came when he was broken at love in the final game of the match.

The loss was Djokovic’s first at Key Biscayne since 2013. He missed last year’s Miami Open but won the title three consecutive years in 2014-16.

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Top-ranked Halep wins tough 3-setter in Miami

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania struggled to post a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 second-round win over French lucky loser Oceane Dodin at the Miami Open on Thursday.

In the first career meeting between the players, Halep allowed the 98th-ranked Dodin to break her serve on six of seven opportunities she presented in the match, which lasted more than two hours.

Halep broke Dodin’s serve for the seventh time at 4-4 in the third set before closing it out.

Halep played in her third career Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, but has yet to secure a Grand Slam trophy.

Halep’s best Miami Open was reaching the 2015 semifinals.

Also Thursday, former No. 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Kerber is 19-4 this year and has reached at least the quarterfinals of all five tournaments she’s played.

Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open champion, won her first tournament since that U.S. Open at Sydney in January. She also reached the Australian Open semifinals.