Heavy rain drenches France, disrupts French Open

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PARIS — Heavy rain drenched parts of France on Tuesday, prompting flood warnings near the English Channel, causing more delays at the French Open and soaking tourists in Paris.

Floods or heavy rain were forecast for about a quarter of the country Tuesday, from Normandy in the west to Burgundy southeast of Paris.

Rescue workers evacuated homes or ordered people to higher floors in the Pas-de-Calais region in the far north as rivers rose more than a meter (3 feet) in some spots, according to local authorities.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve urged people to exercise the “greatest caution.” He said rescue services were deployed 4,500 times overnight and Tuesday morning to help people affected by rising water. No casualties were reported.

The national meteorological service, Meteo France, warned of possible exceptionally dangerous floods in the Loiret region, south of Paris.

France has seen rain and storms now for several days. During a sudden storm Saturday, a lightning bolt struck a children’s birthday party at a Paris park. Five of the 11 people hit remained hospitalized Tuesday.

All matches at the French Open were cancelled Monday, the first all-day shutdown in 16 years. Matches got underway on Tuesday, but play was soon disrupted again by rain.

Canadian tourist Helene Gazaille, who was visiting Paris to celebrate her 50th birthday, was determined to have a good trip even if that meant stuffing plastic bags into her sneakers in the morning and using a hair dryer to dry them out at night.

Others like Tang Jiru, a 26-year-old Chinese groom-to-be, looked on the bright side of the gray weather. Posing for photos with his fiancee in the Trocadero’s Warsaw fountains, across from the Eiffel Tower, he said he was pleased despite – or maybe even because of – the driving rain.

“The weather, it’s like blue. Blue means romantic,” he said, his white tie-tuxedo-and-waistcoat combo becoming increasingly wet as his 27-year-old bride-to-be, Liu Yuan Yuan, smiled in her rain-sodden wedding dress.

“Every time you take a photo, it’s a sunny day. But it’s a rainy day, (so) oh it’s special!” said Tang, who is getting married in September in Shanghai but had flown to Paris for the express purpose of taking romantic photos.

Raphael Satter in Paris contributed to this report.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.

Parma Ladies Open semifinals postponed to same day as final

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PARMA, Italy — The semifinals of the Parma Ladies Open have been postponed by a day and will be played shortly before the final.

The decision was made because of persistent rain at the clay-court tournament.

Top-seeded Maria Sakkari will start on center court against Danka Kovinic at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) before sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan’s match against Mayar Sherif.

The final will be after 6 p.m. local time, shortly after the doubles final – with the doubles semifinals also being played earlier in the day on a different court.