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ATP looking into claim of racially inappropriate language

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NEW YORK (AP) The ATP says it is reviewing accusations by Donald Young that Ryan Harrison used racially inappropriate language when the Americans had a heated exchange during their opening-round match at the New York Open.

“The ATP takes any allegations of racial prejudice extremely seriously,” the organization said in a statement. “A further review of all video and audio recording from the match will take place as this matter is investigated further.”

Harrison defeated Young 6-3, 7-6(4) on Monday night, and at one point during a changeover the two appeared to be arguing, the chair umpire moving in between the players to attempt to calm the situation.

Young posted on Twitter after the match : “I’m shocked and disappointed, Ryan Harrison, to hear you tell me how you really feel about me as a black tennis player in the middle of our NY match.”

Harrison responded on Twitter that the allegations were “absolutely untrue” and audio from the match would “clear me.”

Serena Williams loses in doubles, US advances in Fed Cup

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) The first step in Serena Williams’ comeback underscored how far she has to go after spending over a year away from the game.

In Williams’ first competition since giving birth five months ago, she and sister Venus lost 6-2, 6-3 to Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands in a Fed Cup doubles match Sunday.

“I honestly feel better than I thought I was going to feel,” she said.

The U.S. already had clinched a victory in the best-of-five event thanks to a pair of singles victories by Venus Williams, so this doubles loss merely narrowed the final score to 3-1. The U.S. advanced to a World Group semifinal April 21-22 at France, which defeated Belgium 3-2 this weekend.

The clincher came Sunday when Venus Williams won the final five games in a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Richel Hogenkamp. The U.S. had taken a 2-0 lead Saturday when Venus Williams beat Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-4 and CoCo Vandeweghe rallied from a set and a break down to defeat Hogenkamp 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3.

“Obviously this is an important moment, when you’re playing not just for yourself but your other team members and your captain and your country,” Venus Williams said. “It’s definitely a different kind of pressure.”

But this event was most notable for the return of Serena Williams, who hadn’t played competitive tennis since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant for her 23rd career Grand Slam singles title, one off Margaret Court’s record. Her only match since had come in a Dec. 30 exhibition.

Serena Williams’ daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., was wearing a headband with red and white stripes plus a blue coat Sunday as her father, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, held her just behind the players’ bench.

“I didn’t manage my time well, but I was thinking about it in the future how to manage it better,” Serena Williams said. “This is literally my first time traveling with the baby and everything. I’m going to try to do better. It was hard. It was the first time for me.”

Williams had said Friday that this weekend would represent “the start of a long process” as she tries to work her way back. Her pregnancy had complications that made this comeback particularly challenging.

Williams had told Vogue magazine that she developed several small blood clots in her lungs after her daughter was born Sept. 1. The article said that she was unable to get out of bed for the first six weeks after giving birth.

Her doubles match revealed the effects of her long time away from the game. Williams said she hadn’t known what to expect Sunday and acknowledged she needs to improve in all aspects, but she added that “I feel like I’m on the right track.”

“I didn’t expect to have that much power on my serves, even though they didn’t go in,” she said. “It’s just a start. I feel like that’s a very good step in the right direction.”

Netherlands captain Paul Haarhuis said a few more matches should help Williams correct the mistakes she made Sunday.

“I think she’s going to be fine,” Haarhuis said. “She’s got the game, you know.”

Williams’ biggest challenge may be managing expectations as she attempts to work her way back into peak form while balancing tennis and motherhood.

Her goals remain as high as ever.

“I think if I walk out there with low expectations, then I need to stop doing what I do,” she said. “So that’s never going to happen for me. I’m always going to have the best and highest expectations for myself. I’m OK with that because that’s just who I am.”

Sunday’s scheduled singles match between Vandeweghe and Rus was scrapped because the outcome of this event already has been decided.

After Venus Williams’ singles victory Sunday, U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said the Williams sisters would be playing doubles together. The schedule originally called for Serena Williams to play alongside Lauren Davis.

In other Fed Cup action this weekend, the Czech Republic beat Switzerland 3-1 and Germany beat Belarus 3-2. Germany will host the Czech Republic in the other semifinal.

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

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Pouille beats Gasquet again to win Open Sud de France

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MONTPELLIER, France (AP) Second-seeded Lucas Pouille of France continued his hold over Richard Gasquet, beating him 7-6 (2), 6-4 Sunday to win the Open Sud de France for his fifth career ATP title.

It was Pouille’s fourth straight win against Gasquet, who was playing his sixth straight final at the tournament. Gasquet won it in 2013, `15 and `16 but missed out on a 15th career title.

Pouille prevented his fifth-seeded countryman from dictating rallies and forced six chances on Gasquet’s serve, breaking him once. He did not face a single break point on his own serve and hit 10 aces in a comprehensive performance.

Pouille trailed 6-1, 5-5 in his semifinal Saturday against third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when his opponent retired with a hamstring injury.