TORONTO (AP) — Serena Williams wore her game face when she stepped out into the stadium for her first match since telling the world she is ready to leave professional tennis.
Greeted by a standing ovation, the 23-time Grand Slam champion didn’t smile. She didn’t wave. She took a sip from a plastic bottle as she walked in. Some folks in the crowd captured the moment with the cameras on their cellphones. Others held aloft handrawn signs — oh, so many signs — with messages such as “Queen” or “Thank you.”
No one knows exactly how many more matches Williams will play before she puts her rackets away for good, and the 40-year-old American exited the National Bank Open on Wednesday night with a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Belinda Bencic.
While there were some familiar fist pumps and yells of “Come on!” during competition, it was only afterward that Williams really allowed her feelings to show, her voice shaking and her eyes welling during an on-court interview when Bencic ceded the spotlight.
“A lot of emotions, obviously,” Williams told spectators who offered her encouragement throughout the clear, 75-degree evening.
The second-round match at the hard-court tune-up for the U.S. Open came a day after she announced “the countdown has begun” on her playing career, saying she wants to have another child and pursue business interests.
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers fired general manager Al Avila on Wednesday, 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 off-season 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 on Aug. 4, 2015, after serving as Dave Dombrowski’s assistant.
The Tigers had only one winning season (2016) during Avila’s time as GM.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is still on the mend from an appendectomy two weeks ago, and there is no timetable for his participation in training camp.
The third-year quarterback, who last season led Cincinnati to its first Super Bowl in 33 years, has been observing practice from a golf cart or scooter. He drew a hearty cheer from fans at a recent practice when he picked up a football and tossed it around.
The quarterback’s father, Jimmy Burrow, told radio analyst Dave Lapham on the “In the Trenches” podcast Friday that it might be a “few weeks” before his son is able to practice.
Taylor said he doesn’t expect Burrow to be lagging in his preparation for the season. Like most of the Bengals’ starters, Burrow wouldn’t have played in the preseason opener on Friday night anyway.
DENVER (AP) — USA Table Tennis CEO Virginia Sung won an election to serve on the board of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee on Wednesday. She will take over a spot held by former Duke athletic director Kevin White.
Sung won in a race that came down to her and Max Siegel, the CEO of USA Track and Field — a contest between the leader of one of the country’s smaller national governing bodies and one of its biggest.
USA Table Tennis’ budget of about $2.5 million in 2020 is in line with those of around half of the 51 NGBs that had votes in determining who would take White’s place starting next year. USATF’s budget was around $36 million in 2020.
USA Wrestling chief Rich Bender had previously been elected to serve another term as an NGB director on the 16-person board. Elections for other open seats will take place later this year. Gene Sykes, the former CEO of the LA 2028 host committee, will replace Susanne Lyons as chair on Jan. 1.
Sung became CEO of USA Table Tennis in 2019. Her bio on the organization’s website says she “founded and served as CEO of a number of large scale businesses in China, some with over 200 employees.” She was a six-time member of world championship teams between 1993 and 2001.
The U.S. has not won a medal in table tennis since its introduction to the Olympic program in 1988.
TORONTO (AP) — Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Borje Salming has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the team announced Wednesday.
Salming, who played 16 seasons with the Leafs (1973-1989) and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996, said he recognizes that there is no cure for the disease but says there are treatments available to slow the progression.
ALS is progressive nervous system disease that leads to paralysis, the inability to swallow, respiratory failure and death, usually in two to five years from the onset of symptoms.
Salming, 71, is receiving treatment in his native Sweden, where there are more than 800 patients living with ALS.
The Associated Press