Serena loses 1st match since saying she’s prepared to retire
TORONTO (AP) — Serena Williams lost her first match since telling the world she is ready to leave professional tennis. No one knows exactly how many more matches Williams will play before walking away. The 23-time Grand Slam champion exited the National Bank Open on Wednesday night with a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Belinda Bencic. The second-round match at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open came a day after the 40-year-old Williams announced “the countdown has begun” on her playing career, saying she wants to have another child and pursue business interests. She made it sound as if her final goodbyes could come at the U.S. Open. It begins Aug. 29 in New York.
Serena’s Legacy: Plenty of wins, plenty of stands on issues
Serena Williams is famous for her 23 Grand Slam singles titles. That is more than any other tennis player accumulated in the sport’s professional era, which began in 1968. But mere numbers can’t capture everything Williams has represented during a distinguished career that began when she was a teenager in the 1990s and is remarkable for not just the successes but also the longevity, including a record 10 major championships after turning 30. What Williams has done without a racket in her hand is also rather noteworthy, whether it was her off-court interests or her stands on key issues in tennis and society at large.
Tigers GM Al Avila fired after 7 years, no playoffs
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers have fired general manager Al Avila, ending a seven-year tenure with no playoff appearances. Owner Chris Ilitch announced the move with his team mired in another disappointing season. Detroit entered Wednesday at 43-68, last in the AL Central. Ilitch invested millions in the offseason in an attempt to return his team to contention. Assistant general manager Sam Menzin takes over the day-to-day leadership role. Avila was promoted to general manager a little more than seven years ago after serving as Dave Dombrowski’s assistant. The Tigers had only one winning season during Avila’s tenure. Avila was the only Latino general manager or equivalent in the majors.
Watson starting Browns’ preseason opener as suspension looms
CLEVELAND (AP) — Deshaun Watson will start Cleveland’s exhibition opener at Jacksonville while waiting to learn if the NFL will succeed in keeping him off the field much longer. Watson is potentially facing a year-long suspension for alleged sexual misconduct. He’s playing Friday night against the Jaguars. It’s the quarterback’s first game since Jan. 3, 2021, his final one with the Houston Texans. The three-time Pro Bowler sat out last season after demanding a trade and before he was accused of assault and harassment by two dozen women during massage therapy sessions in Texas. Watson was suspended six games last week for violating the personal conduct policy, but the league wanted a tougher penalty and appealed. An arbitrator chosen by Commissioner Roger Goodell is reviewing the case.
Rodolfo Castro’s on-field MLB phone flub a relatable moment
PHOENIX (AP) — Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Rodolfo Castro’s phone faux pas was a relatable moment. The 23-year-old mistakenly left his smartphone in the back pocket of his baseball pants and it flew out when he was sliding into third base during the Pirates’ 6-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. Castro apologized after the game, saying it was an oversight. Major League Baseball players are banned from using such technology during games. But it’s far from the first time a phone has made a cameo on a pro sports field. Nearly 20 years ago, New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Horn made a hidden phone part of a touchdown celebration.
Bengals’ Joe Burrow still healing, no timetable for return
CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is still healing from an appendectomy two weeks ago, and coach Zac Taylor said there is no timetable for his participation in training camp. The third-year quarterback has been observing practice from a golf cart or scooter. Burrow’s father, Jimmy Burrow, told radio analyst Dave Lapham last week that it might be a “few weeks” before his son is able to practice. The Bengals got some good news when right tackle La’ el Collins was cleared to practice. Taylor says few if any starters will play in the first preseason game Friday.
Prospect Grissom homers in debut, Braves beat Red Sox 8-4
BOSTON (AP) — Top Atlanta prospect Vaughn Grissom homered onto Lansdowne Street in his major league debut to lead the Braves to an 8-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Marcell Ozuna also homered for Atlanta. Grissom was called up earlier in the day from Double-A. The 21-year-old Grissom hit the first pitch he saw in the seventh inning over the Green Monster and the seats above it and onto the street below for a two-run drive and his first big league hit. Grissom singled and scored in the ninth. Atlanta completed a two-game sweep. The Red Sox lost their fourth straight game, and their sixth of seven.
Santana’s homer rallies Mariners for 4-3 win over Yankees
SEATTLE (AP) — Carlos Santana snapped an 0-for-17 slump with a go-ahead two-run homer during Seattle’s three-run seventh inning, and the Mariners rallied to beat the slumping New York Yankees 4-3. Aaron Judge hit his major league-leading 45th homer of the season for the Yankees, who have lost eight of 10. Thanks to two tense, one-run victories, Seattle took two of three from New York for the second straight week to win the season series 4-2. Seattle has not lost a series to a team other than AL West-leading Houston since mid-June, when it dropped four of five to the Los Angeles Angels.
Vela gets MLS All-Stars going in 2-1 win over Liga MX
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Carlos Vela scored in the third minute and Raúl Ruidíaz’s converted a penalty kick in the 73rd minute in the Major League Soccer All-Star team’s 2-1 victory over Mexico’s Liga MX on Wednesday night. Kevin Álvarez scored for Liga MX in the 83rd minute that sailed past diving goalie Sean Johnson. The MLS team beat Liga MX on penalty kicks in Los Angeles last year after a 1-1 draw in regulation. Minnesota United goalie Dayne St. Clair made four saves and was named the game’s most valuable player.
FedEx Cup playoffs are here and LIV Golf a lingering topic
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The PGA Tour’s lucrative postseason gets underway Thursday and there’s still lingering talk about the Saudi-funded LIV Golf league. Rory McIlroy says common sense prevailed when a federal judge in California ruled against three LIV players wanting a piece of the FedEx Cup pie. Talor Gooch and Hudson Swafford were in Memphis hopeful of a favorable ruling. They won’t be playing. The field for the FedEx St. Jude Championship is at 120 players. Five players have withdrawn for injury or other reasons. They’ll be competing for $75 million in bonus money, along with two tournaments with $15 million prize funds.
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