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Serena Williams wins Open record 23rd Grand Slam, beats sister Venus

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Serena Williams wins Open record 23rd Grand Slam, beats sister Venus

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Serena Williams has won her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title, and her sister was right there on court to give her a congratulatory hug.

The all-Williams final -- the first at the Australian Open since Serena won the first edition of the family rivalry here in 2003 -- went to the younger sibling 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday night.

With her record seventh Australian title, the 35-year-old Williams moved ahead of Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era. Margaret Court has the all-time record and was also in the crowd for the final at Rod Laver Arena.

Court won 24 majors, but collected 13 of those before the Open era which began in 1968 after the sport became professional.

The victory also ensured Serena Williams will regain the top ranking, which she lost in September after 186 straight weeks when Angelique Kerber won the U.S. Open.

It was Serena's seventh win in nine all-Williams Grand Slam finals, and the first since Wimbledon in 2009. It was 36-year-old, No. 13-seeded Venus Williams' first trip back to a major final in 7 years.

Serena sat on the court, holding both arms up to celebrate, before Venus walked over to her sister's side of the net for a hug.

"This was a tough one," Serena Williams said. "I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she's an amazing person -- she's my inspiration.

"There's no way I would be at 23 without her -- there's no way I would be at one without her. Thank-you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard."

Williams has won 15 majors since last losing to Venus in a Grand Slam final, at Wimbledon in 2008. That was the seventh and last major title that the older of the Williams sisters won.

Venus hadn't made the second week of a major for a few years as she came to terms with an energy-sapping illness since being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome in 2011, and made her return to the semifinals at Wimbledon last year.

"She's made an amazing comeback ... I don't like the word comeback," Serena Williams said. "She's never left. She's been such a great champion."

The match didn't live up to its classic billing, with nerves and tension causing uncharacteristic mistakes and unforced errors and four consecutive service breaks before Venus finally held for a 3-2 lead in the first set. That included a game when Serena had game point but served back-to-back double-faults and three in all to give up the break.

There were six service breaks in all. Both players were relatively subdued, except for Serena's racket smashing spike on the court in the third game that earned her a code violation.

After the fourth game, however, Serena Williams didn't face another break point in the 1-hour, 22-minute match.

"Serena Williams, that's my little sister, guys. Congratulations Serena on No. 23," Venus said. "I have been right there with you. Some of them I have lost right there against you. It's been an awesome thing, your win has always been my win, you know that. All the times I couldn't be there, wouldn't be there, didn't get there, you were there."

Venus stayed in the match with 21 winners, and won the longest rally of the match, but couldn't seem to keep up with her sister as the match progressed.

In terms of total years, it was the oldest Grand Slam women's final in the Open era with the Williams sisters combining for 71 years, 11 months. Roger Federer will be aiming to increase his all-time men's record to 18 when he takes on 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal on Sunday night, completing the singles finals lineup of all 30-somethings.

The Bryan twins missed out on a doubles record late Saturday, losing the final 7-5, 7-5 to Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia.

The third-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan were trying to win their 17th Grand Slam title, which would have tied them with John Newcombe for the most titles all-time.

Serena got a little bit superstitious Down Under, and hadn't wanted to talk about the No. 23. "Now we can talk about it," she said.

Now there's a limited-edition racket -- 23 to be released, with proceeds going to The Serena Williams Fund -- and a pair of custom-made shoes -- sent by former NBA star Michael Jordan. It had Jordan's usual jersey number No. 23 stamped on the heel, helping to provide some synchronicity for the numbers involved.

Rio Olympic roundup: U.S. women's gymnastics, Phelps, Ledecky all win gold

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Rio Olympic roundup: U.S. women's gymnastics, Phelps, Ledecky all win gold

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Good old Michael Phelps, golden again.

For teenagers Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles, their star turns in the Summer Olympics might be just beginning.

From the pool to the gymnastics floor, Team USA had nice day at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Not all the American stars were winners Tuesday, though. Serena Williams lost on the tennis court and the U.S. women's soccer team gave up a late goal and ended up in a draw with Colombia.

But a new generation of U.S. athletes is ready to take up the banner of Olympic standard-bearer from Phelps, a grizzled veteran at 31.

Phelps earned his 20th career gold medal after taking the 200-meter butterfly. He erased the bad memories from his loss in the same race in London to South African Chad le Clos.

Phelps got off to a rousing start at the Rio Games by leading his 4x100 freestyle team to the gold medal on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Phelps' face bared a familiar scowl as he walked out on to the deck. He held off Japan's Masato Sakai by four-hundredths of a second, with Hungary's Tamas Kenderesi taking the bronze.

His 21st gold came later Tuesday night after swimming the anchor leg on the 4x200-meter relay.

Ledecky strode atop the medal podium again with a bright smile after taking gold for winning the 200-meter freestyle. Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden claimed the silver and Emma McKeon of Australia took the bronze.

Ledecky, just 19, won her second gold. At this pace, she could challenge Phelps' medal haul someday.

At the other end of Olympic Park, the U.S. women's gymnastics team captured a second straight gold with a high-flying and dominating performance.

The triumph was never in doubt, their score of 184.897 at the Rio Games was more than eight points clear of the field. The day was capped by the 19-year-old Biles, a fan favorite, whose boundary-pushing floor exercise showed just how far ahead they are of everyone else.

Biles, Lauren Hernandez, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman also gave retiring national team coordinator Martha Karolyi a fitting send off with powerful performances on all the apparatuses.

The golden girls dubbed themselves "The Final Five" in honor of Karolyi's retirement at the end of the Olympics and the fact that the format is changing for Tokyo in 2020 so that only four team members will take part in the team competition.

The normally stern Karolyi broke down in tears when she was told of the nickname the team adopted.

"I think at this moment we can say that that the United States dominates the world of gymnastics," Karolyi said.

Russia took the silver medal and China earned bronze.

Other highlights from Day 4 at the Rio Games:

Murky pool
At Maria Lenk Aquatics Center, there was more buzz over the color of the water than the diving competition. It had turned a murky green since Monday night's events. Chen Ruolin and Liu Huixia didn't seem to care about the color. They won the women's 10-meter synchronized platform title to make China 3-for-3 in the competition so far.

Sour Serena
Williams shanked shots all over the court in getting upset by Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. The top-ranked American won't get a chance to defend the gold she won in London. Williams looked out of sorts and irritated, accumulating 37 unforced errors. She had five double-faults in one game alone in the 6-4, 6-3 loss to the 20th-ranked Svitolina. Williams wiped her forehead, picked up her rackets and headed back quickly to the locker room. Svitolina, who had never before played in an Olympics, smiled and stuck her arms out in front of her, palms up, as if waking up from a dream.

On the pitch
Catalina Usme beat U.S. goalie Hope Solo on a pair of free kicks to draw Colombia to a 2-2 tie with the United States. The first, in the 26th minute, was Colombia's first ever Olympic goal, and first ever goal against the United States. Team USA still emerged at the top of Group G of the women's soccer tournament and will play in the quarterfinals.

Host country Brazil played to a 0-0 draw with South Africa. The Brazilians had already secured a spot in the women's soccer quarterfinals before their match. The team and star Marta have drawn more attention while Brazil's men have struggled at the Olympics. The women's team will face Australia in a quarterfinal match on Friday.

Medal stripped
A Ukrainian javelin thrower was stripped of his silver medal from the 2012 London Olympics, becoming the latest athlete disqualified after the retesting of stored doping samples. Oleksandr Pyatnytsya tested positive for the steroid turinabol and was retroactively disqualified from the London Games and ordered to return his medal, the International Olympic Committee said.

Rugby stunner
Sonny Bill Williams was helped off with an ankle injury during New Zealand's shocking 14-12 loss to Japan in its first game of rugby sevens. New Zealand is a 12-time world series champion and one of the top contenders for the first rugby medals awarded at an Olympics in 92 years.

Pele improving
Pele tweeted that he hopes to appear at the closing ceremony after missing the opening because of his health. The soccer great was the organizers' preferred choice to light the cauldron, but first cited sponsorship commitments and later health concerns for staying away.

Wimbledon: Serena, Venus Williams win doubles; 2-trophy day for Serena

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AP

Wimbledon: Serena, Venus Williams win doubles; 2-trophy day for Serena

LONDON -- Serena Williams is leaving Wimbledon with two trophies, teaming with her older sister Venus to win a women's doubles final that began a little more than 3 hours after the singles final ended Saturday.

The American siblings won their sixth doubles championship at the All England Club and 14th as a pair at all Grand Slam tournaments by beating fifth-seeded Timea Babos of Hungary and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4.

Earlier Saturday, also on Centre Court, Serena collected her 22nd Grand Slam singles title with a straight-set victory over Angelique Kerber in that final.

"I had just enough time to change and get my ankles re-taped," Serena said about going from one match to the other. "But there was so much adrenaline. I didn't want to cool down too much."

Venus sat in the guest box during the singles final.

"Watching Serena earlier was so amazing, and I was so into that. And then you have to re-set yourself and say, `OK, we've got to play a match and we're going to have to try to win,'" Venus said during a joint interview with the BBC after the doubles. "So she brought the energy from Game 1 and that really brought me up, too."

The Williams sisters also won doubles titles at Wimbledon in 2000, 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2012. Each time, one or the other also won the singles championship, with Serena doing it in 2002, 2009 and 2012 in addition to this year.

They're now 14-0 in major doubles finals. But they were unseeded this time because they play doubles so infrequently, and their most recent Grand Slam title before Saturday had come four years ago at the All England Club. Until playing at the French Open in May, they hadn't even entered a doubles draw at any major tournament since 2014.

They're planning to compete in doubles, in addition to singles, at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month. They already have won three gold medals in doubles, at the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Summer Games.

When they were asked during the BBC interview which one is in charge of their doubles team, Serena immediately pointed toward Venus and said with a laugh, "She's definitely the boss."

And Venus said: "Well, I'm the older sister, so it kind of falls on me. But (there are) different times on the court that we both take over. So whatever the team needs, it kind of happens organically. That's the best kind of team."

Shvedova, who lost to Venus in the singles quarterfinals this week, was trying to win her third Grand Slam doubles title, after teaming with Vania King for trophies at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010. Babos has never won a major doubles trophy; she was the runner-up with Kristina Mladenovic at Wimbledon in 2014.

In men's doubles, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-3 to win their first Wimbledon title. It was the first all-French Grand Slam men's doubles final of the Open era.

The victory gives Mahut a happier memory from the grass-court tournament where he lost the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set against John Isner in the first round of singles in 2010.

"We talk a lot about this match already. I'm very proud of it," Mahut said, referring to the contest that lasted more than 11 hours, spread over three days. "But now it's something different. Now I can come in the press conference as a Wimbledon champion. It's great."

This is the second major title together for the top-seeded team of Mahut and Herbert, who won the U.S. Open last year.

They're only the second pair of Frenchmen to earn the doubles trophy at the All England Club in the Open era, which began in 1968. Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra won Wimbledon in 2007.

Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin won the 2014 French Open doubles championship.

Mahut knows Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin rather well, having won ATP doubles titles with each of them in the past. Mahut and Benneteau even had success together as teens, collecting seven junior doubles titles in 1999.