Serena’s midriff, naval ring take center stage at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Serena Williams’ latest on-court fashion statement is an attempt to “push the envelope” with a nod to classic tennis style.

So says Williams, the No. 1-ranked player who is baring her midriff and naval ring at this year’s Australian Open.

Williams designed the bright yellow outfit that features a T-shirt top snugly cropped and a pleated mini-skirt.

“I just wanted to think outside the box,” said Williams, who has never been called a fashion conformist. Some of her eye-catching tennis wear has included a faux leather black catsuit, studded hot pants, a denim mini-skirt with knee-high black socks and a variety of animal prints.

“I’ve been on tour for a long time,” said the 34-year-old Williams, who is appearing in her 62nd Grand Slam. “I just wanted to push the envelope again, just bring pop culture to tennis, kind of make it really fun.”

The six-time Australian Open champion and winner of 21 majors won her first Grand Slam in 1999 at the U.S. Open, just a couple years after her latest opponent was born. Williams wasted no time Friday, beating 18-year-old Daria Kastkina 6-1, 6-1 in 45 minutes, and maybe the outfit helped.

After the match, she was asked if she was chilly.

“It’s definitely not built for warmth, but it’s built for speed,” Williams joked on center court.

When the subject cropped up again in her post-match news conference, she explained the idea was to marry the “youth and fun-ness” of the pop culture world with tradition.

“I wanted a pleated skirt, because a pleated skirt is very classic,” she said.

Aside from that, Williams just loves short shirts.

“I live in a crop top, sleep in crop tops. I’m often never seen without one,” Williams said. “So I thought, you know, it would be really fun to play in one.”

At French Open, Francisco Cerundolo is mad at chair umpire over Holger Rune’s double-bounce

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS – Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina was devastated about losing his French Open fourth-round match to Holger Rune of Denmark in a fifth-set tiebreaker Monday. He also was mad at chair umpire Kader Nouni for missing a double-bounce of the ball on a point that was awarded to Rune early in his 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) victory.

They were tied at a set apiece and on serve at 2-1 for the No. 6-seeded Rune early in the third at Court Suzanne Lenglen when the point of contention happened. Cerundolo, who was serving at deuce, hit a forehand that skidded low at the baseline and quickly bounced a second time – which normally would have meant that the point was his.

But Rune went ahead and got his racket on the ball, sending it back over the net. At about the same time, No. 23 seed Cerundolo was saying “sorry” to apologize for the odd way his forehand made the ball skim across the clay. Nouni was not immediately aware of the double-bounce, thought the ball was still in play and called Cerundolo for hindrance for talking during a point. That meant Rune got the point, and when he won the next one, too, he had a service break.

“It was unbelievable, because it was a clear double-bounce. I was mad at the umpire because he has to see it,” Cerundolo said. “It’s his fault.”

In tennis, electronic line-calling is used at many tournaments to make line calls, but replays are not used to check things like double-bounces or whether a point should be lost because a player touches the net, which is not allowed.

And while Cerundolo put the onus on the official, he also thought Rune could have ceded the point because of the double-bounce.

“For sure, I wish he would have done that, because it was a big moment,” Cerundolo said.

Rune, who moved into a matchup against No. 4 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, said he saw a replay after the following point, and “saw it was a double bounce. But the point already happened, and he called the score. So I felt sorry.”

But, Rune added: “This is tennis. This is sports. Some umpires, they make mistakes. Some for me; some for him. That’s life.”

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.