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07/24/24 11:55:00

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07/24 11:54 CDT Coco Gauff to be female flag bearer for US team at Olympic opening ceremony, joining LeBron James Coco Gauff to be female flag bearer for US team at Olympic opening ceremony, joining LeBron James PARIS (AP) --- Tennis star Coco Gauff will join LeBron James as a flag bearer for the U.S. Olympic team at Friday's opening ceremony. Gauff, the reigning U.S. Open champion, is set to make her Olympic debut at the Paris Games and will be the first tennis athlete to carry the U.S. flag. She and James were chosen by Team USA athletes. "I mean, for me, the Olympics is a top priority. I would say equal to the Grand Slams. I wouldn't put it above or below, just because I've never played before. This is my first time," Gauff said earlier this year. "Obviously, I always want to do well, try to get a medal." Gauff and James, the 39-year-old leading scorer in NBA history, both compete in sports that are outside the traditional Olympic world and get attention year-round, not just every four years. The 20-year-old Gauff made the American team for the Tokyo Games three years ago as a teenager but had to sit out those Olympics because she tested positive for COVID-19 right before she was supposed to fly to Japan. Now Gauff, who is based in Florida, is a Grand Slam title winner in singles and doubles. She won her first major championship in New York in September, defeating Aryna Sabalenka in the singles final of the U.S. Open, then added her first Grand Slam doubles trophy at the French Open this June alongside Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic. The same clay courts at Roland Garros used for the French Open will be where matches are going to be held for the Paris Olympics. The draw to set the brackets is Thursday, and play begins on Saturday. Gauff is seeded No. 2 in singles, matching her current WTA ranking behind No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland, and will be among the medal favorites. She and her usual doubles partner, Jessica Pegula, are seeded No. 1 in women's doubles. And Gauff and the highest-ranked American man, Taylor Fritz, were seeded No. 2 in mixed doubles when those pairings were announced Wednesday. "I'm not putting too much pressure on it, because I really want to fully indulge in the experience," Gauff said about her Olympic debut. "Hopefully I can have the experience multiple times in my lifetime, (but) I'll treat it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience." ___ AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games
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