As Serena Williams returns, Venus says her game hasn’t left

Venus, left, and Serena Williams pose ahead of the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia. (AP)
Updated 06 March 2018

As Serena Williams returns, Venus says her game hasn’t left

Venus Williams gave a scouting report on her warmup partner that sounded the same as always.
Serena Williams is back, and her game hasn’t left.
“She’s got power, depth. She knows how to play,” Venus said. “Yeah, awesome game.”
The Williams sisters were the headliners Monday night in the Tie Break Tens tournament in Madison Square Garden, an eight-woman event in which all matches were 10-point tiebreakers, instead of the usual games and sets.
Serena won her first match but lost in the semifinals. Elina Svitolina of Ukraine dominated the event, winning 17 straight points during victories over Venus and CoCo. Vandeweghe before defeating China’s Zhang Shuai 10-3 to win $250,000.
Serena was playing singles for the first time this year as she prepares to return to the WTA Tour for the first time since giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on Sept. 1. The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion would later tell Vogue Magazine in an interview that she developed several small blood clots in her lungs after giving birth.
She had played just once this year, losing a Fed Cup doubles match with Venus last month, and hasn’t played a singles match on tour since winning the 2017 Australian Open, where she beat Venus in the final.
Serena won her first match against Marion Bartoli of France, the former Wimbledon champion who is ending a 4 1/2-year retirement, but lost 13-11 to Zhang in the semifinals. She said she was having fun playing again and was excited for the future.
“I think everyone should have high expectations,” Williams said in an on-court interview after her loss. “You should always believe in yourself even if no one else does.”
Her coach certainly does. With Serena returning this week in Indian Wells, California, Patrick Mouratoglou told WTATennis.com he had high expectations for the three remaining Grand Slam tournaments this season. He said he sees the same determination in practice, but wouldn’t know if being a mother had changed her until he saw her competing.
Venus already knows what to expect.
“I mean, the matches are definitely a good way to know where you are, but obviously she knows how to play,” the 37-year-old Venus said. “She’s going to bring that instinct on the court with her, so I don’t think she’s too worried about that.”
Tie Break Tens held its first tournament in the US after five events in Europe and Australia. The remainder of the field included Sorana Cirstea of Romania and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, who retired last year.
Svitolina, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 4, continued her strong play to start the season after a winning a tour-high five titles in 2017. The winner of two tournaments already this year, she won the last seven points to break away from a 3-3 tie against Venus, then swept Vandeweghe 10-0.
“Of course, winning the first tournament of the year was a great start for me,” Svitolina said. “It’s always tough to transfer the work we do in the offseason, so this was a good sign that I’m moving the right way and I’m very, very happy that I played good tennis throughout the beginning of the year and just from here I can go only up.”
Vandeweghe, a New York native, jumped at the chance to play at MSG. Her grandfather, Ernie, and uncle Kiki, now an NBA executive, both played for the New York Knicks.
“I didn’t have to think too long,” he said. “Once I was asked by my coach, Pat (Cash), if I was going to be available around that time, I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll make myself available.’ So it didn’t take much thinking.”
She was on the US team in last month’s victory over the Netherlands in North Carolina and enjoys seeing both Williams sisters still playing well. Venus reached two Grand Slam finals in 2017 and returned to the top five of the rankings.
She competed Monday night just a few days after the 20th anniversary of her first WTA Tour title in Oklahoma City as a 17-year-old. Many players have taken up the sport in years since because of the Williams sisters, and Venus hoped more might be interested in this format since they were.
“If that’s the result, yeah, that would be great,” she said. “I hope that is the result, that this is a lot of excitement and more people start playing. It’s a great sport. The sport is great for everyone of all ages.”


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.