Venus Williams back in U.S. Open after being given wild card

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – Venus Williams will be back in the U.S. Open this year after being given a wild card into what could be younger sister Serena’s final tournament.

Venus Williams won back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2000 and 2001, and this year marks 25 years since she reached the 1997 final in Flushing Meadows as a 17-year-old in her first full season on tour.

Now 42, Williams did not play in the U.S. Open last year because of injury, but the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion recently returned to tour after missing nearly a year.

Serena Williams, 40, recently said she is preparing to leave tennis, though she did not specify it would come after the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29.

Dominic Thiem, the 2020 U.S. Open men’s champion who has since dealt with injuries and fallen to No. 228 in the world ranking, also was granted a wild card by the U.S. Tennis Association.

The USTA also gave a wild card to Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion who didn’t compete in New York last year because of injury, along with fellow Americans CoCo Vandeweghe, Elizabeth Mandlik, Peyton Stearns and Eleana Yu.

Harmony Tan of France – who beat Serena Williams during a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon – and Australian Jaimee Fourlis also received wild cards.

Mandlik, the daughter of past U.S. Open champion Hana Mandlikova, earned hers by winning the U.S. Open wild-card challenge.

On the men’s side, wild cards went to Americans Sam Querrey, Emilio Nava, JJ Wolf, Ben Shelton and Learner Tien, along with Ugo Humbert of France and Australian Rinky Hijikata.

Also Wednesday, 2016 U.S. Open semifinalist Gael Monfils withdrew because of an injury to his right foot sustained last week during his match against Jack Draper in Montreal. Monfils, who missed time earlier this season after a procedure on his right heel, announced he needed further treatment for the injury.

Taro Daniel of Japan moved into the main draw.

Top-seeded Sakkari reaches semifinals at Parma Ladies Open

Maria Sakkari
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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past 97th-ranked Maryna Zanevska 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday at the Parma Ladies Open to reach her first semifinal since the grass-court season.

Sakkari, who has gone three sets in all three of her matches this week, will face Danka Kovinic for a spot in the final of the clay-court event after Kovinic beat Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 6-4.

In her previous semifinal, Sakkari lost to Belinda Bencic in Berlin in June. The seventh-ranked Greek player was eliminated by Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open on Aug. 31.

In the bottom half of the draw, Mayar Sherif of Egypt beat American opponent Lauren Davis 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach her second career semifinal. Sherif next faces Ana Bogdan, who defeated fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Sakkari through to Parma Open quarterfinals; Stephens loses

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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Parma Ladies Open.

Sakkari, who accepted a late wild card to the red clay court tournament, was playing her first event since losing to Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open.

The Greek player will next face Maryna Zanevska of Belgium after she eased past Dalma Galfi 6-1, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, lost to Danka Kovinic 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

Kovinic will face Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals after the Italian defeated compatriot Elisabetta Cocciaretto 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There will be an American in the final eight, however, as Lauren Davis rallied to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Sorribes Tormo had eliminated second-seeded Martina Trevisan in straight sets in the opening round.

Davis will play Mayar Sherif after the Egyptian player defeated Simona Waltert 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Also, third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania eased past Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan, who beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.