The French Open starts this weekend and could have a major impact on who qualifies for the Olympic tennis tournament. Elsewhere, Team USA's basketball 3x3 teams can clinch their Olympic spots, Olympic Trials wrap up for the U.S. archery team, and the battle to qualify for the U.S. beach volleyball team is in the homestretch. Here's what's happening in the world of Olympic sports over Memorial Day Weekend.
Tennis: French Open
Just eight months after its last edition, the 2021 French Open begins this weekend in Paris. It's the final event that plays into Olympic qualification rankings and is ripe with storylines.
The fourth U.S. women's Olympic team spot is on the line, with teenager Coco Gauff currently leading the field of contenders. Sofia Kenin, Jennifer Brady and Serena Williams will take the first three spots (though Williams cast doubt on whether she would go to Tokyo). Gauff, 17, is seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time, becoming the youngest women’s singles seed at a Slam since Czech Nicole Vaidisova in 2006.
Williams, 39, returns to action seeking a record-breaking — but elusive — 24th Grand Slam win, and her fourth title in Paris.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are currently tied with a record 20 Grand Slam titles apiece, and for the first time ever, the men's Big 3 — Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic — ended up in the same half of the draw, meaning only one can reach the final. Thirteen of Nadal's titles have come on clay; Federer is playing in his first Slam since undergoing multiple knee surgeries.
As for off-the-court notes, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka — who's yet to pick up a title at Roland Garros — stirred up controversy by saying she won't do press during the tournament, citing its impact on her mental health.
Basketball 3x3: Olympic Qualifying Tournament
It's a big weekend for Team USA on the 3x3 front. The FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament has arrived, and the U.S. men and women will both need to finish within the top three in order to qualify for the Olympics. Luckily, both squads got off to a solid start in the tournament. The men earned a hard-fought 21-20 victory over Lithuania and followed it up with a 21-3 shellacking over South Korea to cap their first day of competition. The women also went 2-for-2 on Thursday, beating Indonesia 21-7 and then taking down France, the top-ranked women's 3x3 team in the world, by a score of 21-17. The men will resume play Saturday when they take on Kazakhstan and Belgium. The women will also resume play Saturday, beginning with a game against Germany followed by a meeting with Uruguay.
Games can be watched live on FIBA's 3x3 YouTube channel.
Archery: Olympic Trials
USA Archery Olympic Trials pick up where they left off nearly two years ago with the field narrowed down to the top 16 men and women, having already completed stages one and two of the four-stage process.
At the conclusion of Stage 3 on Friday, archers were cut to the top eight, and after the final stage on June 1, USA Archery will nominate a team to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
The U.S. has earned one men’s quota spot from Brady Ellison’s gold at the 2019 World Archery Championships, and one women’s spot from gold in the mixed team event at the 2019 Pan American Games (won by Ellison and Casey Kaufhold).
The U.S. could qualify full teams of three men and three women at a Final Qualification Tournament in Paris in June.
Beach Volleyball: FIVB World Tour in Sochi
We've reached the homestretch for beach volleyball duos to qualify for Tokyo. On the women's side, April Ross and Alix Klineman are locked in as the United States' top pairing. Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat are in the thick of the race for the second qualifying spot, but Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes have narrowed the gap to an Olympic berth after advancing to the semifinals of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in Sochi, which wraps up on Saturday. With a strong finish, Sponcil and Claes could be the favorites to join Ross and Klineman in Japan. As for the men, Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb are currently the top-ranked men's pairing for the United States, but Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser, along with Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, are also very much in the thick of the battle for a qualification spot. Their performances in Sochi will greatly impact their chances of taking part in this summer's Games.
BMX Racing: UCI BMX Supercross World Cup
Rounds three and four of the 2021 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup take place Saturday and Sunday in Bogota, Colombia, and it's the last chance for riders to earn Olympic ranking points. They follow the first and second rounds held earlier this month in Verona, Italy, where the Swiss and Dutch were victors — Simon Marquart and David Graf of Switzerland won the men's elite races, and the Netherlands' Judy Baauw and Laura Smulders, respective 2018 world bronze and gold medalists, won the women's elite races. The U.S. had its best showing in the first-round women's race with a 4-5-6 finish led by Payton Ridenour, who turns 19 years old this weekend. Felicia Stancil and Ashley Verhagen followed. All three American women will return to compete in Bogota along with Daleny Vaughn, as well as Jared Garcia and Michael Joseph on the men's side. Colombian Mariana Pajon, the two-time consecutive reigning world champion, didn't make it past the semifinals in either round in Verona. She'll be in front a home crowd in Bogota.
Rankings close after Bogota. Team USA positions will be filled in order of USA Cycling Olympic BMX Supercross Rankings, which take into account best finishes from the World Cup events and world championships from Jan. 1, 2019 to May 31, 2021. As of the week leading up to Bogota, the U.S. women's team was ranked in the top-two nations, which equates to earning up to three starting positions. If held, 2016 Olympic silver medalist and 2017 world champ Alise Willoughby (33 points) and Stancil (18 points) would likely take the first two. The third would come down to Ridenour, Vaughn and Verhagen, and their results in Bogota. The U.S. men's team was ranked third, giving them a potential two positions. Corben Sharrah, the 2017 world title-winner, and reigning Olympic champion Connor Fields had 16 and 10 points, respectively, comfortably above their fellow countrymen.
Track & Field: Chula Vista Field Festival
Field specialists converge Saturday for the 2021 Chula Vista Field Festival in California, a meet similar to last weekend's Throws Festival in Tucson, Arizona. Competition comprises the discus and javelin throws and three of the four jumps sans pole vault. Among those expected to be there: 2019 world high jump bronze medalist Vashti Cunningham, whose 1.99m season-best from Tucson put her at No. 2 in the world thus far; two-time Olympic and world triple jump silver medalist Will Claye; 2012 Olympic long jump champion Brittney Reese; and reigning Olympic long jump champion Jeff Henderson. It's part of USATF's Journey to Gold series.
U.S. Senior National Team members Evita Griskenas and Laura Zeng are back in action at the Pesaro World Cup stop, which runs from Friday-Sunday at Vitrifrigo Arena in Pesaro, Italy. The Senior National Group will also be making its second international appearance of the 2021 season.
Zeng, a 2016 Olympian, is in the hunt for her third top-10 World Cup finish of 2021. She finished ninth at the Baku World Cup in early May and seventh at the Sofia World Cup in March.