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Week 1 Olympic Notes: Serena, Young & Westbrook’s’ fencers

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By Leland Stein III

WIMBLEDON - The Olympic quote of the first week was Serena Williams after she won her opening-round match against former Serbian world number one Jelena Jankovic. Coming off her thrilling win at Wimbledon recently and her subsequent run of 11 straight victories, Serena toasted Jankovic 6-3 6-1. Following her win Serena looked up in her box and gave the USA First Lady Michelle Obama, who was sitting with Serena’s sister (Venus) a thumbs-up. She told the press: “They asked me did I mind if she sat in the family box,” said Williams. “I was like, ‘Of course not. Please, it would be my honor’. I love Michelle, so it was good. I gave her a thumbs-up just to acknowledge that I knew she was here. Obviously it was impossible not to see her but it was cool.” Serena has never won a gold medal in singles, but she and her sister Venus have two gold medals in doubles (2000 in Sydney and 2008 in Beijing).

SO LONG: Up and coming tennis star Donald Young, 23, lost in his opening-round match to Italy's Andreas Seppi, 6-4, 6-4 at Wimbledon. The Chicago born tennis player came into the Olympics with a career-high ATP ranking of World No. 38. He reached the fourth round of the 2011 US Open, which marked his first appearance in the fourth round of a major. There was high hope for him in London, but he could not overcome Seppi and his run here is over so soon. The lefty tennis player has been compared the tennis legend John McEnroe, but he has yet to get over the hump. This venue was a great stage for him.

FENCERS: Also gone is former Olympian Peter Westbrook Foundation fencer Nzingha Prescod, 19, from Brooklyn, N.Y. as she lost to Aida Mohamed of Hungary 15-10 in the opening-round. The Columbia student made a late charge but couldn’t get it done. The first-time Olympian said she was undone by nerves to a degree: “I feel like I could’ve been under better control in the beginning. I rushed too much with my feet.” It did not help that Prescod faced a 36-year-old veteran in her Olympic debut. “She’s not the ideal opponent,” Prescod said. “She’s been around a really, really long time and has so much experience.” Fellow fencer Daryl Homer, 22, finished in sixth-place after the individual round. He said: “Me being the youngest person on the team, I think I have a big future ahead of me, but it was a tough loss for me, both for our federation, for myself, for my team, for our coach. I think in a few days we’ll pick our heads up for the team event.” Homer started at age 10 within the walls of the New York Fencer’s Club under the guidance of six-time Olympian Peter Westbrook - just like Prescod - before learning the saber with the famed handler Yury Gelman. Homer, who ranked number one in the United States, said he worked hard to become first in the sport after an unimpressive childhood with the foils.

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