by: BRAD KALLET August 18, 2016 –

The gold medalist didn’t have a ton on her fastball, but she reached the plate effortlessly. (AP)

On Wednesday night, Bethanie Mattek-Sands became the latest tennis player to throw out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game.

The doubles specialist, who won a gold medal in mixed doubles with Jack Sock in Rio de Janeiro last week, tossed the pitch at Chase Field in Phoenix ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 13-5 win over the New York Mets.

Mattek-Sands, one of the most interesting and eccentric characters on tour, was born in Minnesota, though she currently resides in Phoenix.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

There wasn’t much velocity on the 31-year-old’s fastball to D-backs infielder Philip Gosselin, but she reached the plate effortlessly. A generous umpire might have given her the high strike call.

It was more impressive than Patrick McEnroe’s first pitch earlier this season, but John’s bullet put it to shame. (In fairness, John could probably pitch out of the Mets’ bullpen right now.)



Catch up on all the action from championship Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Venus Williams did not divulge where she will store her fifth Olympic tennis medal. We do know where those stars-and-stripes socks worn by Bethanie Mattek-Sands are going, though.

“Definitely, the socks will get retired and put in a frame,” Mattek-Sands said.

Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock won the gold medal in mixed doubles, beating Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram 7-6, 1-6, (10-7) in an historic all-USA match Sunday at the Olympic Games.


Western Australia is the bold destination you shouldn’t miss

It was the first loss ever in an Olympic final for Williams, whose silver nonetheless allowed her to tie the Olympic record for tennis medals. She won singles gold in 2000, and doubles gold with sister Serena in 2000, 2008 and 2012.

Great Britain’s Kitty McKane won five medals, with one gold, in the 1920s. Venus Williams was also trying to become the first to win gold in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

Mattek-Sands conceded playing against Venus was “intimidating, really.” The Phoenix resident did not play like it. Although Mattek-Sands has four Grand Slam titles in doubles or mixed doubles, she said Olympic gold topped that.

She said she “got chills” as she relived her experience from opening ceremony, saying all the American athletes chanted, “U-S-A, U-S-A” before entering Olympic stadium.

“You can’t compare any Grand Slam to that,” she said.

The United States previously swept gold and silver in mixed doubles in 1924. Hazel Wightman and Dick Williams defeated Eleanor Goss and Lillian Scharman in the final.

Venus Williams was ill before leaving for Rio de Janeiro, and she was upset in the first round of both singles and doubles. She and Ram had a series of tight matches leading up to the final.

“It’s been an amazing experience, five Olympics for me,” she said. “It’s surreal that I even came out with any hardware at all.”

She did not rule out a sixth Olympics at Tokyo in 2020, when she would be 40.

After falling behind 3-0 in the tiebreaker, Williams and Ram won the next six points to go ahead 6-3. Then Mattack-Sands and Sock won the next six, seizing a 9-6 lead.

The match was sparsely attended, largely because ticket buyers drifted over to the singles match involving Spain’s Rafael Nadal. The14-time Grand Slam winner lost to Japan’s Kei Nishikori for a bronze medal.

Ram was added to the roster shortly before the opening ceremony after the 2012 doubles gold medalists, Bob and Mike Bryan, withdrew. Ram, 32, a first-time Olympian, is coming off a men’s doubles semifinal appearance at Wimbledon.

David Woods writes for The Indianapolis Star