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Williams sisters defend Olympic doubles gold

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Williams sisters defend Olympic doubles gold

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Serena Williams relishes her role as copycat little sister. Even if it takes her 12 years. Now, she has that remarkable Olympic double -- just like Venus. The overpowering American pair teamed to win the women's doubles title at the Olympics on Sunday, with Serena adding to the singles gold she won on Centre Court at Wimbledon a day earlier. "Crazy," Serena said. "I'm always copying her. I forgot that she did it in Sydney and I do it here. We're the same doubles team, we just split this to singles, so it's cool." The sisters beat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 under the roof on a rainy afternoon at the All England Club. Venus -- with her red, white and blue braids pulled back into a bun -- closed out the match on the very grass she has long loved with a backhand volley winner after the Czechs saved a pair of match points. "We all talk about this, 'We have so many medals,' but to be able to add to that, it's like an unbelievable feeling," Venus said. "You know that in that count, there you are. It feels amazing." On Saturday, Serena beat Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 for the singles gold. She joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam -- winning the Olympics and the four majors. When the Americans in the crowd at Centre Court broke into a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" as the players left the court, the sisters each pumped their fists, turned around to wave, then slapped a high-five. The medal ceremony had to wait for the outdoor bronze-medal match, which was delayed by rain. With Bob and Mike Bryan capturing gold in men's doubles Saturday, make it three golds for U.S. tennis in two days. "It's great because America's added three gold medals to our medal count just in the tennis," Venus said. "I feel great to be a part of this U.S. team this year." Serena became tennis' first double gold medalist at an Olympics since Venus won singles and doubles at the 2000 Sydney Games. The sisters also won the doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With Sunday's victory, they each have a record four Olympic tennis gold medals, and the sisters didn't drop a set through their five matches at the London Games. While Serena was thrilled to win on her own Saturday, with Venus rooting her on from the family box, the doubles is what she most cared about coming to the London Games. Especially considering all the emotional and physical struggles for Venus, who was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue. "This is all I wanted," said Venus, who had all of about two months to raise her ranking and qualify for the Olympics. "Boy, was that a battle. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I really feel proud of what happened here at the Olympics." But for years Venus has been comfortable on the lawn at Wimbledon, where she has won five of her seven Grand Slam titles. "Venus has been going through so much and she's so strong and so she's so amazing," Serena said. "And to win this was my goal." The Williamses also became the first tennis players to win Olympic gold indoors since the 1912 Stockholm Games, a match played in a pavilion on wood courts painted black. On Sunday, they won the fourth game of the second set at love on Venus' ace, the first of three straight games in which they didn't lose a point. Serena overcame two break points trailing 1-0 in the second set. She pumped her fist and cheered after a forehand winner down the alley past a poaching Hradecka, who was aggressive at the net all afternoon. The Czechs held in four of their first five service games, including Hlavackova's first that went to deuce four times. Venus Williams joins Conchita Martinez of Spain as the only tennis players to win medals at three different Olympics. Martinez's medals all came in doubles -- silver in Barcelona in 1992, bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games and silver in Athens in 2004. Gigi Fernandez and current U.S. coach Mary Joe Fernandez are the only others to win back-to-back Olympic tennis gold medals after they teamed for doubles titles in 1992 and 1996. And the sisters insist they're not done yet. "We're looking forward to Rio," Serena said, "and trying to get some sort of medal there."

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Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

The initiative to get Otto Porter Jr. more attempts from three this season is not off to a great start.

That right there is called an understatement. Because it would be one thing if Porter only took a couple of them, but he literally took zero against the Heat on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

Yes, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters didn't even get off a single attempt from long range. That is simply hard to justify, especially after a preseason in which the team had a stated goal to shoot more threes than ever before.

It wasn't just threes. The often deferential Porter was even more gun shy than normal. He only took seven total shots in the 113-112 loss and topped out at just nine points.

Porter, in fact, had just one field goal attempt until there was 1:19 remaining in the first half, when he got two of them on the same play thanks to a rebound on his own miss.

Porter still affected the game in other ways, per usual. He had 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks and finished +1 in +/- rating.

But for Porter to reach the next level as a player, he has to add volume to his efficient scoring numbers.

"We will look at the film and figure it out," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's not like we go into the game wanting to only shoot 26 threes [as a team] and Otto shoot zero."

Brooks continued to say the problem is a combination of several things. More plays could be called for Porter and his teammates could look for him more often.

But ultimately, it's up to Porter to assert himself and take initiative. Granted, that may have been easier said than done against the Heat, who boast one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball in Josh Richardson. They are a scrappy team with athletic and hard-nosed defenders on the wing.

For Porter, though, that shouldn't matter. Ultimately, his share of the offense is up to him. The ball is going to swing around often enough for him to create his own opportunities.

Porter only taking seven shots is a bad sign considering Thursday was a better opportunity to get shots than he may receive in most games. The Wizards added Dwight Howard this summer and last season he averaged 11.2 shots per game, 3.4 more than Marcin Gortat, whom he replaced in the starting lineup.

It won't be easy, but the Wizards need Porter to take matters into his own hands.

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Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

The Caps looked like they were in good shape in the third period on Wednesday. With a 3-2 lead in the final frame against a New York Rangers team that had played the night before, Washington looked like they were starting to wear down the blue shirts and tilt the ice in their favor.

But everything changed just before the midway point of the period.

Nathan Walker, in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 4, chased down Neal Pionk behind the Rangers net as Pionk went to collect the puck. Walker put his arms around the Rangers’ defenseman to slow him up and he was called for holding.

“That was the safest thing possible for me to do is to wrap him up and take him in the corner like that,” Walker said to NBC Sports Washington on Friday. “Personally, I didn't think it was a good call on the ref's side, but that's the way it goes.”

Just over a minute later, Chris Kreider deflected a shot that was going wide past Braden Holtby for the power play goal to tie the game at 3.

A third period mistake that tied the game from a player in and out of the lineup could have been a devastating moment for Walker, but head coach Todd Reirden was adamant after the game that he did not want Walker to lose his aggressiveness or change the way he plays as a result of Wednesday’s mistake.

“I insert him to be aggressive and his intensity was something we needed,” Reirden said. “I thought he won a lot of puck battles earlier in the game and at different points. He's pursuing the puck trying to force a turnover and it ends up as a call against. That's I think a tough call in that situation, but we're able to pick him up and if there's a guy on our team that we want to rally around and try to come back for, it's someone like that with a work ethic and just commitment and dedication and how he is as a teammate.”

Luckily for Walker, the Caps were still able to get the win thanks to Matt Niskanen’s overtime goal. Those were nervous moments for him watching as the team tried to overcome his mistake.

“It's definitely nerve-wracking for sure,” Walker said. “You kind of feel like you're the reason why they got back into the game. I personally thought we were all over them in the third period up until they got that goal. I think we still played really well, but obviously the play with the lead is a lot nicer than playing tied up 10 minutes to go in the third. It was nerve-wracking, but it was good that the guys came through and we got the two points at the end of the day so that's the main thing.”

The fact that Walker’s mistake did not end up costing the team will make it easier for Reirden’s message to sink in. It’s his aggressiveness that makes him valuable. One mistake should not make him change that aspect of his game.

Said Reirden, “It's something that if he stops hunting pucks and creating havoc up ice then he's just a very average player that's going to find himself in and out of the league.”

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