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At Hot-for-Wimbledon, Venus Williams Nears Serena Showdown

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Venus Williams of the United States returns a shot to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan  during their singles match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Wednesday July 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Venus Williams of the United States returns a shot to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan during their singles match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Wednesday July 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer

LONDON (AP) — Venus Williams is no longer the player she once was, on account of the passage of time and the day-to-day ups and downs of an energy-sapping condition.

At age 35, 21 years removed from her first professional tournament, Williams still possesses a dangerous serve, along with the muscle memory that comes with seven Grand Slam singles titles, five at Wimbledon.

And so while it is her younger sister Serena who is ranked No. 1, has 20 major titles and owns a 23-match Grand Slam winning streak as of Wednesday, the elder Williams is still in the draw at the All England Club, too — and the siblings are closing in on what would be their 26th all-in-the-family matchup on tour.

“She probably comes back here and, you know, I think, she almost feels like this is home,” said David Witt, Venus’ coach. “When you have confidence, you have everything. That’s with any sport. And I guess when she gets here, it’s a confidence thing.”

On the hottest day on record in Wimbledon history, with the temperature topping 95 degrees (35 degrees Celsius) — and a terrific day for American women — both Williams sisters won second-round matches: 16th-seeded Venus beat 95th-ranked Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 7-6 (5), 6-4, while top-seeded Serena defeated 93rd-ranked Timea Babos of Hungary 6-4, 6-1.

Two more wins, and the siblings will meet in the fourth round.

“She poses a big threat for me,” Serena said about Venus.

They pulled out of doubles on Tuesday, citing “soreness” for Serena, who wants to focus on her pursuit of a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title.

Four other women from the U.S. won Wednesday, including two real surprises: 158th-ranked qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands eliminated No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, the 2009 French Open champion, 6-3, 6-4; and 47th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, the niece of former NBA player and executive Kiki, beat No. 11 Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Also advancing: No. 21 Madison Keys, who finished off a match suspended because of darkness at 2-all in the third set a night earlier, and Sloane Stephens.

A pair of U.S. men moved on, too: No. 17 John Isner and 105th-ranked wild-card entry Denis Kudla, who followed up his victory over No. 28 Pablo Cuevas by getting past 18-year-old Alexander Zverev.

“A few years ago, I was being asked, ‘What happened to U.S.A. tennis?’ And I said, ‘Well, it comes and goes.’ I think there were a lot of younger players coming that showed promise,” the 30-year-old Mattek-Sands said. “Sure enough, I think we have a really strong contingent of American players and it’s really good to see.”

She is halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam in doubles with Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic. Serena, meanwhile, is halfway there in singles, and so far this week has a pair of straight-set victories after playing five three-setters at the French Open.

After dismissing Babos on Centre Court — where a small electrical fire in a mechanical room set off alarms once play was done for the day — Serena was able to settle in front of a TV to watch Venus finish off Putintseva.

“I always root for Venus,” Serena said. “She’s been through a lot in her career. She’s really playing well.”

So far at Wimbledon, that is certainly true, including a 6-0, 6-0 victory in the first round.

Against Putintseva, Venus’ 29 winners included seven aces, and she reached 122 mph (197 kph) on a serve in the final game.

Venus last won the grass-court Grand Slam tournament in 2008; three years later, she announced that she has Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and fatigue.

Her nearly 2-hour match Wednesday was the last on Court 3, and wrapped up at about 9 p.m., by which point it was much cooler than earlier. The Met Office, Britain’s official weather service, said the temperature reached 35.7 degrees Celsius (about 96 degrees Fahrenheit) at its closest observation site, about 1 degree Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the previous tournament record, set in 1976.

Spectators fanned themselves in the stands and used everything from hats to umbrellas to towels for shade. A ball boy collapsed during Isner’s match and was taken away on a stretcher. One player, No. 27 Bernard Tomic of Australia, said he felt dizzy during his victory. Others, including Mattek-Sands, wrapped towels filled with ice around their necks during changeovers.

“It’s definitely hot, but nothing crazy. We have played in worse. I think it’s just surprising because it’s happening in England, where it usually doesn’t,” Keys said. “We have played through much worse.”

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Bay Area

Kaplan to WNBA: Bring New Team Here!

Support to bring a WNBA team extends past a solid fanbase, as local regulating agencies have also taken key votes to prepare for a WNBA team in Oakland. With the leadership of Vice-Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, in July 2021, both the Oakland Coliseum Authority and the Oakland City Council unanimously and enthusiastically voted in favor of a term sheet to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.

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@PaulCobbOakland @NNPA_BlackPress @BlackPressUSA @Kaplan4Oakland @WNBA
Ray Bobbitt, President of African American Sports and Entertainment Group, who purchased the Coliseum as part of its East Oakland Development Plan, thanks Rebecca Kaplan for providing the City Council leadership in 2021 for the AASEG to bring a WNBA Franchise along with jobs, housing, businesses and sports enterprises to Oakland. Photo by Jonathan “Fitness” Jones.

By Post Staff

Oakland Vice-Mayor Rebecca Kaplan will introduce a resolution on Sept. 20, 1:30 p.m. to the Oakland City Council urging the Women’s National Basketball Association (“WNBA”) to approve the City of Oakland as the home for a new WNBA Team.

The WNBA has discussed plans to expand the number of WNBA teams on its roster for the past number of years. Kaplan said, “the City of Oakland must make it clear that not only are we supportive of bringing a WNBA Team to Oakland but are excited to be partners and collaborators with the WNBA during the expansion. This resolution, therefore, extends our strong support towards this effort and urges the WNBA to make Oakland the home for a WNBA team.”

When asked by the Post whether she had heard that San Francisco might be a potential WNBA competitor, even though Oakland started first with its bid, Kaplan said, “Oakland is ideally suited for a WNBA team because of our fervent and rooted fanbase, existing arena space and shared core values with the WNBA. The Bay Area has the fourth-highest number of WNBA fans among U.S. markets without a WNBA team — 418,816 WNBA fans, higher than eight current markets with a WNBA team. More than a half million Bay Area market adults play basketball, and the Bay Area ranks in the top 30 markets in household delivery for the WNBA Regular Season.”

In October of 2021, it was announced that WNBA Champion and four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard, who spent 15 years playing the WNBA and earned back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Attorney Jade Smith-Williams, of the law firm Baily & Glasser, LLP, a local Oakland women’s basketball legend and who played professionally overseas, would join in the leading efforts by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (“AASEG”) to have an Oakland Black and Women WNBA Team ownership process.

In addition to a strong fan base, Oakland already has a world-class arena at the center of a multimodal corridor ready to house a WNBA team. The Oakland Arena is easily accessible by both highway and public transportation, complete with a pedestrian bridge that allows fans direct access from the Coliseum BART station. The arena sits on 132 acres with 10,000 on-site parking spaces. It is also airport accessible, and a stone’s throw away from the Capitol Corridor rail line. This multimodal connectivity will allow not only Oaklanders to conveniently attend games but also fans from across California. From former Monarchs supporters to women’s basketball enthusiasts, Oakland will draw fans from the Bay Area megaregion and beyond.

Support to bring a WNBA team extends past a solid fanbase, as local regulating agencies have also taken key votes to prepare for a WNBA team in Oakland. With the leadership of Vice-Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, in July 2021, both the Oakland Coliseum Authority and the Oakland City Council unanimously and enthusiastically voted in favor of a term sheet to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.

Kaplan states, “Oakland is a community that values social justice, equality, and women’s rights. These principles align with those of the WNBA, and we are ready to move forward as a partner in advancing those goals as the home for a new WNBA team.”

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Activism

Veterans Fish Free

NABVETS and other Bay Area veterans groups will join together with East Bay Regional Park District to go fishing, 9:00am to 2:30pm Saturday, September 27 at the Oakley Regional Shoreline (Antioch Pier) at Bridgehead Road and Wilbur Avenue, Antioch, CA. 

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NABVETS and other Bay Area veterans groups will join together with East Bay Regional Park District to go fishing, 9:00am to 2:30pm Saturday, September 27 at the Oakley Regional Shoreline (Antioch Pier) at Bridgehead Road and Wilbur Avenue, Antioch, CA.

Buses will provide free transportation from Richmond and Concord. For information, view the flyer below or call 510-545-2554.

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Black History

COMMENTARY: Inspiring Tennis from Serena, Tiafoe, and Coco Gauff

The match that had people buzzing came last Friday, featuring Serena Williams, considered the best women’s player ever. Nearly 41-years old, a mother of a young child, Serena had announced her retirement. Friday would be her last match.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

Tennis, anyone? In my Mission District neighborhood growing up, we had courts. But us kids always chose the adjoining basketball court. And in the summer and fall, we chose the big patch of grass for baseball and football. They tried to get us to play tennis by giving us free rackets. But they were wooden, and we broke them at the handle easily. Besides, the famous players whose names graced the rackets were Rod Laver, Tony Trabert. White guys, not like any of us.

That was in my day. If only we had seen more people like us to encourage us to play in white spaces.

But imagine growing up now watching the U.S. Open.

This week an African American from Maryland, 24-year-old Frances Tiafoe, ranked No. 22 in the world beat the No.2 seed of the tournament, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, and became the youngest American to advance to the U.S. Open quarterfinals since Andy Roddick in 2006.

Tiafoe played with such joy, indicative of a love instilled in him by his father, an immigrant from Sierra Leone, who worked as a maintenance man at a tennis development facility in the DC area. While his dad worked late nights tending to the clay courts, his mother, a nurse, worked nights. It made the young Tiafoe sleep at the facility during the week. That’s how you fall in love with the game. It becomes part of your dreams.

But Tiafoe is a young emerging phenom. The match that had people buzzing came last Friday, featuring Serena Williams, considered the best women’s player ever. Nearly 41-years old, a mother of a young child, Serena had announced her retirement. Friday would be her last match.

For her send off, Serena gave us plenty of fight and passion. After a second-round victory that stunned even her fans, Serena had people talking about her possibly winning the whole thing. In the third round match, she was down 5-1 in the final set. She’s overcome that kind of deficit before, but … would she? Could she? Now?

Serena fought off six match points before she meekly hit a final ball into the net that made her younger opponent Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, the victor.

But we got what we needed. A life lesson. Serena in braids and a sparkly black tennis dress, showed the fire of never giving up. Six match points she battled. Commentator/former tennis champion Chris Evert described the Serena method as reaching for the stars, failing, then getting up to fight again.

The beauty of that process? Sometimes you’ll fail well enough to win. Over and over again.

That’s how Serena became such a dominant champion, winning 39 major titles — the most in history by man or woman in the open era. Among those laurels were 23 Grand Slam singles titles, 14 in women’s doubles, and two in mixed doubles.

And to think, Serena and her sister Venus, another great champion, all did it out of that tennis haven — Compton, Calif.

When I saw them both play, I was already too old to play competitively. But I wasn’t too old to be motivated to pick up a racket and hit some balls. That’s how inspiring both Williams sisters have been for more than two decades.

Now here comes a new generation of fresh stars half their age, Americans in the U.S. Open quarterfinals like the exuberantly physical Tiafoe and the screaming 18-year-old Coco Gauff.

There’s some diverse tennis role models now if you want to work on your forehand.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com

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