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.


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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

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, a nine-year Phoenix resident, is virtually assured of a U.S. tennis berth at the Rio Olympics by virtue of her No. 9 world doubles ranking at the deadline for direct Olympic acceptance. Video: Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports Wochit

31-year-old is ranked No. 9 in the world in doubles

The U.S. Tennis Association won’t make it official until after July 4, but Bethanie Mattek-Sands already is among the American tennis nominees for the Rio Olympics.

Because of her No. 9 world ranking in women’s doubles through a June 6 deadline for direct Olympic acceptance, Mattek-Sands, who has lived in metro Phoenix for nine years, is virtually assured of playing in her first Olympics at age 31. She was in Olympic contention in 2008 and 2012 only for injuries and competition to intervene. Now two years after a second hip surgery, she is perhaps playing the best tennis of her career.

“I’m just in a better place right now,” Mattek-Sands said during a training stop at home before leaving for Wimbledon. “I think I’ve really evolved as a player and an athlete and honed in on what the best plans are for me” in training, nutrition and recovery. “It’s a accumulation of everything. It’s really been a progression. I feel the best I’ve ever felt.”

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Mattek-Sands will be one of the few  tennis Olympian with Arizona ties since the sport rejoined the Olympic program in 1988. Sargis Sargsian, who played at Arizona State in 1994-95, represented Armenia at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics. Victoria Azarenka, who trained in Scottsdale when she was a teen, won two medals at the 2012 Olympics,

For Mattek-Sands, who embraces the state even during the summer heat, representing it and the U.S. at an Olympics trumps even her 2015 Grand Slam doubles titles at the Australian and French opens.

“There’s so many things about Phoenix that I love coming home to,” Mattek-Sands said. “I’ve traveled around the world, been a lot of places and I don’t see myself moving anywhere else. I feel like I’m in workout clothes all day anyway so I don’t mind sweating. The nights here in the summer are amazing to me. I’ve bragged to all my friends on the tour about coming and visiting me. I feel like I fit in Phoenix. I love it here.”

Mattek-Sands has won seven WTA double titles since 2015, five with Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, also her partner for Wimbledon, where play begins Monday. An abdominal strain followed by bacterial infection sidelined Safarova from the 2015 U.S. Open through early 2016 so Mattek-Sands teamed with Coco Vandeweghe to win at Indian Wells, Calif., in March, perhaps a prelude to Rio.

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“They ask me who I want to play with,” said Mattek-Sands, also 2-0 with Vandeweghe in Federation Cup matches. “It’s hard to choose sometimes, but Coco and I have had the best record and experience playing together and chemistry. I think that’s going to be the choice, but nothing is set in stone so I’ll wait and see.”

It’s also likely that Mattek-Sands will play in Olympic mixed doubles with Mike Bryan (her 2015 French Open title partner) or Bob Bryan; the other Bryan twin probably teaming with Serena Williams. The Williams sisters, both ranked in the singles top 10, likely will play singles and doubles in Rio with Venus going to her fifth Olympics and Serena to her fourth.

“Everyone I’ve talked to that has played the Olympics said it’s really one of those memorable moments of their career so I’m really looking forward to it,” Mattek-Sands said. “I think it’s more special because it’s not every year. Even less people get the chance to go. What really brings it home is the emotional side of playing for your country.”

Growing up in Neenah, Wis., Mattek-Sands remembers watching Olympic gymnastics including Kerri Strug in 1996.

“Gymnastics was actually the first sport I started with,” she said. “It’s probably better I didn’t get involved because I’m not very flexible. It’s really inspiring and with the coverage now you get a chance to see all these athletes and how they’ve managed to get to the top level in sports I’ve never even tried.”

With major U.S. Olympic Trials still to come in gymnastics, swimming and track, the number of athletes, coaches and staff with Arizona ties in Rio is expected to surpass 50, covering at least 12 sports.

Eighteen-time swim gold medalist Michael Phelps, who trains at Arizona State, is looking to qualify for his fifth Olympics. Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi and U.S. men’s volleyball player Reid Priddy, who went to Mountain Pointe High School, will be playing in their fourth.