Serena Williams to return in Abu Dhabi next week

This file photo shows Serena Williams of the US hitting a return against Venus Williams of the US during the women’s singles final on day 13 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Jan.28, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 24 December 2017

Serena Williams to return in Abu Dhabi next week

ABU DHABI: Former world number one Serena Williams will make a surprise comeback at the Mubadala exhibition event in Abu Dhabi next Saturday, as she gears up for her Australian Open title defense in January.
The decision to play in the United Arab Emirates should virtually confirm Williams’ participation at Melbourne Park.
The 36-year-old has not played since clinching a 23rd Grand Slam singles title 11 months ago, after revealing she was pregnant during the tournament and taking time off to give birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia in September.
Williams will return with a match against Latvia’s French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, making them the first women to compete in the previously male-only event.
“I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter,” she said in a statement released by the tournament organizers on Sunday.
“The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has long marked the beginning of the men’s global tennis season and I am excited and honored to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event.”
The former world number one can equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles, although she will have to make do with a low seeding Down Under after slipping to 22nd in the rankings.
Williams’ comeback raises the prospect of a renewal of her one-sided rivalry with Maria Sharapova, after the Russian’s own comeback earlier this year from a doping ban.
It also provides a boost the Australian Open, after two-time champion Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the warm-up event in Auckland over the ongoing custody battle that has stopped the Belarusian from playing since Wimbledon in July.
Serena claimed an Open-era record 23rd major title by beating older sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 in this year’s Australian Open final, a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact that she was two months pregnant.
Ostapenko broke through with a stunning French Open title, and the 20-year-old will take on Serena for the first time.
The Mubadala event had already seen men’s world number one Rafael Nadal and three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka withdraw.
The six-strong men’s field in Abu Dhabi does feature Serb Novak Djokovic, who will also be making his comeback.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion has not played competitively since his quarter-final loss to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon because of an elbow injury.


Arsenal, Roma open Europa League with comeback wins

Updated 22 October 2020

Arsenal, Roma open Europa League with comeback wins

Arsenal opened its fourth straight Europa League campaign with a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Rapid Vienna on Thursday in an opening round of games affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Star striker Pierre­ Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench to score the winning goal in the 74th for Arsenal, which won its group in its previous three campaigns in the second-tier European competition.
Roma also came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Young Boys, as did Granada to upset PSV Eindhoven away.
Rangers’ Kemar Roofe scored the goal of the night in a 2-0 victory at Standard Liege, dribbling his way through three opponents inside his own half and then launching a shot from the halfway line that caught the goalkeeper off guard and looped into the net.
Dutch team AZ Alkmaar overcame a slew of coronavirus cases to upset Napoli 1-0.
Tottenham, AC Milan were among teams playing later Thursday.
Arsenal went behind when goalkeeper Bernd Leno played a poor pass that fell to Rapid forward Taxiarchis Fountas, who slotted in a low shot from a tough angle in the 51st minute.
Arteta sent on Aubameyang and Héctor Bellerín in the 61st, and the substitutes helped spark the comeback.
After David Luiz headed in a free kick from Nicolas Pépé to level the score, Mohamed Elneny freed Bellerín down the right to cross for Aubameyang to complete the comeback from close range.
In the other Group B game, Molde also came from behind to win 2-1 at Dundalk.
AZ Alkmaar flew into Naples with 13 players sidelined with coronavirus infections. Napoli, meanwhile, was coming off a 4-1 win over high-scoring Atalanta 4-1 this past weekend. But the Dutch staved off the hosts’ pressure before Dani de Wit scored the winner in the 57th. Real Sociedad won 1-0 at Rijeka the other Group F game.
With Roma resting striker Edin Džeko, Bruno Peres and Marash Kumbulla led the rally with the second-half goals for the Italian side.
Jean ­Pierre Nsame had given Young Boys the lead by converting a penalty kick in the 14th.
It was the first home loss for Young Boys to an Italian opponent in European competitions after beating Udinese, Napoli and Juventus.
Also in Group A, Romania’s Cluj won 2-0 at Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia.
In Group C, Bayer Leverkusen produced the biggest win of the early games by beating Nice 6-2. Nadiem Amiri and Lucas Alario scored early first-half goals five minutes apart for Leverkusen, while substitute Karim Bellarabi netted two and 17-year-old forward Florian Wirtz came off the bench to complete the rout.
In a game between teams from two countries whose domestic leagues have been interrupted due to high levels of coronavirus infections, Israel’s Hapoel Beer-Sheva beat Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague 3-1.
James Tavernier gave Celtic the lead from the penalty spot in the 19th before Roofe added his spectacular second goal in injury time. Benfica won 4-2 at Lech Poznan in the other Group D game.
In Group E, German forward Mario Götze put PSV ahead in first-half injury time before Jorge Molina and Darwin Machis scored for Granada in the second half. Omonoia drew with PAOK 1-1.