Taylor Townsend gets 1st Slam win as mom

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MELBOURNE, Australia — As Taylor Townsend was preparing to return to professional tennis after becoming a mom nearly two years ago, she sought counsel from a couple of pretty good sources: Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters.

Clijsters, who collected three of her four Grand Slam titles as a mother, offered this advice, according to Townsend, a 26-year-old left-hander from Chicago who won her first-round match at the Australian Open: “Really enjoy being a mom, don’t rush and take your time, because you don’t want to come back feeling pressure or anything like that. That was kind of like my mentality when I was coming back: I want to enjoy being a mother. I want to understand my son. I don’t want to feel the pressure of, like, `I have to play.”‘

Townsend gave birth to A.J. in March 2021, and a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Diane Parry of France at Melbourne Park was her first in singles action at a Grand Slam tournament since then.

“My goal is just to try and inspire people and moms to show that you can do whatever you want,” Townsend said. “Having a child doesn’t stop you from hustling and grinding and just being great at whatever you want to do.”

Townsend’s game was too much for Parry: The American never faced a break chance, hit seven aces and won the point on 11 of 12 trips to the net. She compiled 23 winners to just eight for Parry.

It all took only 57 minutes.

“Was a really, really bad day for me,” Parry said. Asked how much of that was her doing or Townsend’s, Parry responded: “A lot of me and also her.”

During the most recent offseason, Townsend took what she called the first “solo vacation” of her life, spending 10 days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

It worked wonders for her mindset but also reduced the amount of time she spent with A.J., making this trip to Australia a little more difficult for Townsend.

“When I left home, I was pretty sad. … (But) when I leave, it’s incredibly important for me to make the times that I leave count. I talk to him, and before my matches I look at pictures and videos and just remind myself of why I’m doing this and why I’m away, so it means something,” she said. “It really is special to make these moments count and to be able to show the ups and downs. … I’m just trying to be the best example that I can for him, both when he is with me and (when) he is not here. Hopefully making him proud.”

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

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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.

Mikael Ymer fined about $40K after default for hitting umpire stand with racket

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.

An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.

The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.

The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.

Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.

That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.

After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.

“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”