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In brief: Venus cruises through French opener

Mon., May 24, 2010, midnight

Tennis: Whistles and whispers circulated through the stands at Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday, a reaction brought about not by Venus Williams’ play at the French Open, but rather by her outfit.

With a lacy, black overlay giving it the illusion of being see-through, and bright red trim on the bodice, Williams’ corset-like get-up made her look as if she were ready to perform in a 19th century Parisian cancan chorus line. Her game, a mix of power and niftier-than-usual footwork on this day, was very 21st century, and befitting a star of the show.

The red clay of Roland Garros in Paris never has been Williams’ best stage – her seven Grand Slam titles all came at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. At this year’s French Open, she is assured of at least one more performance, thanks to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over former top-10 player Patty Schnyder of Switzerland in the first round.

Williams lost in the third round at each of the past three French Opens and only once has been beyond the quarterfinals in 13 previous trips: She lost to younger sister Serena in the 2002 final. Still, Venus’ hitting partner, David Witt, said after Sunday’s victory, “If she goes out there and is smart and plays smart tennis, I think she can win the tournament.”

There are others who will have some say in that, of course, including defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who also won in straight sets, and the top-ranked Serena, whose first-round match is today. Only one seeded man departed. No. 23 Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who upset Roger Federer at Rome this month, stopped because of a right thigh injury while trailing Julien Benneteau of France 6-4, 6-2, 1-0. Two seeded women left: No. 10 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, a quarterfinalist a year ago, lost to Gisela Dulko of Argentina 6-1, 6-2, and No. 20 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain lost to Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan 6-2, 6-4.

Goodell urges state concussion laws

NFL: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to 44 governors urging them to pass a law similar to one in Washington state that protects young athletes from concussions.

The NFL said in an e-mail that Goodell’s letter will be part of Dr. Richard Ellenbogen’s testimony at Rep. John Conyers’ forum on concussions in New York today.

Ellenbogen treated Zackery Lystedt, the Washington youth who suffered a brain injury in 2006 after returning to a middle school football game following a concussion. His story prompted Washington to pass Lystedt’s Law, which keeps young athletes from returning to play too soon.

The Lystedt law contains three essential elements:

•Athletes, parents and coaches must be educated about the dangers of concussions each year.

•Young athletes suspected of having concussions must be removed from a game or practice and not be permitted to return to play.

•A licensed health care professional must clear the young athlete to return to play in the subsequent days or weeks.

January helps lead Fever past Sky

WNBA: Shay Murphy had 16 points and nine rebounds and Briann January (Lewis and Clark HS) added 12 points to lead the Indiana Fever to a 69-61 victory over the Chicago Sky in Indianapolis.

Cathrine Kraayeveld had 11 points and Sylvia Fowles added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Sky (0-4), who have lost their four games by a combined 30 points.

Czechs beat Russia in worlds final

Hockey: The Czech Republic captured the hockey world championship, ending Russia’s 27-game tournament winning streak with a 2-1 victory in Cologne, Germany.

Jakub Klepis gave the Czechs the lead just 20 seconds in, and captain Tomas Rolinek made it 2-0 with less than 2 minutes left in the second period. Pavel Datsyuk cut Russia’s deficit to a goal with 35.3 seconds remaining in the game, but it wasn’t enough.

Russia, which has won a record 25 titles, hadn’t lost a game at the worlds since 2007.

In the bronze medal game, Magnus Paajarvi Svensson opened the scoring for Sweden less than three minutes in. Germany tied it when Alexander Barta scored off his own rebound with four minutes left in the second period.

Jonas Andersson scored twice in the third period to seal the 3-1 win for Sweden.

Red Bulls win exhibition

Soccer: Jeremy Hall, Conor Chinn and Juan Pablo Angel scored second-half goals and the New York Red Bulls routed Juventus 3-1 in an exhibition game in Harrison, N.J. The popular Italian league team played without some of its stars because of World Cup preparations.

Hall and Chinn scored in a five-minute span early in the half to snap a scoreless game, while Angel beat a defenseless Alex Manninger in the 75th minute after taking a great centering pass by Dane Richards.

Basso wins 15th stage of Giro d’Italia

Miscellany: Ivan Basso won the 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia, launching a solo attack on the grueling climb up Monte Zoncolan to move into contention behind overall leader David Arroyo Duran.

Arroyo Duran kept his lead despite finishing 3 minutes, 50 seconds behind Basso in Monte Zoncolan, Italy.

Rogers wins Tour of California: Michael Rogers of Australia has won the Tour of California, dethroning three-time champion Levi Leipheimer of the United States who finished third.

Rogers won by nine seconds after holding the lead since Thursday. He repelled repeated challenges during the 83 1/2 -mile final stage on a hilly circuit in Ventura County while riding for the U.S.-based team of HTC-Columbia.

Reigning champs all win at NHRA Summer Nationals: Reigning NHRA world champions Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) all earned victories at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Summer Nationals in Topeka, Kan.

Neither Schumacher nor Hight had won in Topeka before this year, and both moved closer to the points leaders in their classes. Edwards upped his already impressive points lead to 267 over runner-up Allen Johnson.

Virginia advances to Final Four in lacrosse: Chris Bocklet scored three goals and set up two others to lead top-seeded Virginia past upset-minded Stony Brook 10-9 in the NCAA lacrosse quarterfinals in Stony Brook, N.Y.

The Cavaliers (16-1) move on to the Final Four and will face fifth-seeded Duke (14-4) Saturday in Baltimore.

It was Virginia’s second game since senior midfielder George Huguely was charged in the death of Yeardley Love, a senior women’s lacrosse player for Virginia. Love was posthumously awarded a bachelor’s degree in politics and government Sunday in Virginia’s commencement ceremonies.


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