Serena says goodbye to Canada after defeat by Bencic

Serena says goodbye to Canada after defeat by Bencic
Serena Williams waves to the crowd as she leaves the court after losing to Belinda Bencic during the National Bank Open, part of the Hologic WTA Tour, at Sobeys Stadium on Aug. 10, 2022 in Toronto. (AFP)
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Updated 11 August 2022

Serena says goodbye to Canada after defeat by Bencic

Serena says goodbye to Canada after defeat by Bencic
  • Williams didn’t specify an actual retirement date but is expected to compete next week in Cincinnati before traveling to the US Open, which starts on Aug. 29

TORONTO: Serena Williams, who said this week she will soon call time on her storied tennis career, departed the WTA Toronto Masters for the last time Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Belinda Bencic.

The second-round defeat by Switzerland’s reigning Olympic gold medallist was hardly unexpected, with the 40-year-old Williams competing in only her third match of 2022.

Bencic fired eight aces and broke Williams twice in the first set and once in the second, advancing on her first match point after 78 minutes.

But as Bencic herself said in the post-match interview on court: “Tonight is about her.”

Williams’s farewell on-court interview was threaded with emotion.

“I love playing here, I’ve always loved playing here,” she said, choking up as fans who cheered her throughout the match called out their appreciation.

“I wish I could have played better tonight, but Belinda was playing so well.”

Williams, who turns 41 next month, had beaten Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz on Monday for her first singles victory since the 2021 French Open, 14 months ago.

But it sent shockwaves through the sport when she revealed in an essay in Vogue magazine and an Instagram post on Tuesday that “the countdown has begun” to her retirement from the sport.

Williams didn’t specify an actual retirement date but is expected to compete next week in Cincinnati before traveling to the US Open, which starts on Aug. 29.

She has lifted the US Open title six times, including her first Grand Slam triumph at the age of 17 in 1999.

“It’s been a pretty interesting 24 hours,” said Williams, who remains one shy of the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles won by Margaret Court.

“Like I said in my article, I’m terrible at goodbyes,” she said, her voice breaking.

“But, goodbye,” she said, then adding with a laugh “Toronto.”

“I’ve always had an amazing time here on and off the court,” Williams said. “I’ve had some really good matches and some really cool wins.

“It’s been a joy playing here all of those years.”

Williams’s match was preceded by a video tribute played for fans. Before she left the court she was presented with jerseys from the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs — and with a child’s version of the same for daughter Olympia.

In explaining that she was “evolving away” from tennis in the Vogue article, Williams said she wanted to focus on family life and new business ventures.

Her appearance highlighted a day that saw US teenager Coco Gauff — who says Williams was “the reason why I play tennis” — overcome 13 double-faults to battle past Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and into the third round.

Gauff beat Rybakina 6-4, 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/3) while world No. 1 Iga Swiatek — who beat Gauff in the French Open final this year — sailed past Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-2 in 55 minutes.

Gauff lost out on four chances to close out a straight-sets victory as a quartet of match points came and went.

Kazakhstan’s Rybakina, aided by Gauff’s service struggles, had looked as if she might pull off another marathon victory after squeezing past Marie Bouzkova in the first round only for Gauff to finally prevail.

Swiatek, in contrast, needed just 55 minutes to advance. The top-seeded Pole, with six titles this season, saved six of the nine break points she faced.

“From the first practice I played here I felt really good,” Swiatek said.

Defending champion Camila Giorgi made it to the third round with a 6-3, 7-5 defeat of Belgian Elize Mertens. Spanish fourth seed Paula Badosa lasted for just 13 games before retiring as she trailed 7-5, 1-0 against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.


Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England
Updated 57 min 51 sec ago

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England
  • About 100 males, many wearing masks, approached the pub in Wembley
  • Punches and projectiles including traffic cones were thrown

LONDON: Scores of suspected German football fans attacked customers at a London pub ahead of England’s 3-3 Nations League draw with Germany on Monday, injuring several people, three seriously, police said.
About 100 males, many wearing masks, approached the pub in Wembley, near where the stadium where the match was held, and assaulted customers in the beer garden, police said.
“While a number of the group were wearing England hats and scarves, it is believed they were German ‘fans’,” a police statement said.
“The group entered the beer garden of the pub and began assaulting customers, most of whom were in the area to attend the England vs Germany match. Punches and projectiles including traffic cones were thrown.
“Officers responded and the group fled. The disorder lasted for around two minutes.”
The police said “a number of people” sustained head and facial injuries, with three suffering serious leg, wrist and thumb injuries. Four people were arrested.
“None of those injured are believed to be in a life-threatening condition,” the statement added.


WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history
Updated 27 September 2022

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history
  • Rebranded ‘WWE Survivor Series WarGames’ set for Nov. 26 at TD Garden in Boston

STAMFORD: WWE has announced that this year’s Survivor Series will feature both men’s and women’s WarGames matches for the first time ever.

The Premium Live Event — branded WWE Survivor Series WarGames — is taking place on Nov. 26 at TD Garden in Boston, US.

It will mark the first time in history that WarGames matches take place in a WWE-branded event.

The men’s and women’s Survivor Series WarGames matches will feature teams of WWE Superstars stepping inside a massive steel cage surrounding two rings. The match begins with one member from each team facing off, before additional competitors are added every few minutes thereafter. Once all Superstars have entered WarGames, victory can be attained via pinfall or submission.

WarGames is a staple match with long-rooted history in the world of sports and entertainment. The concept was created by Dusty Rhodes in 1987, with the match originally part of National Wrestling Alliance events, and later, held annually by World Championship Wrestling at the Great American Bash, Wrestle War and Fall Brawl events, respectively.

Since 2017, WWE has held the annual matches at WarGames-branded events as part of their NXT brand. WWE also held the first-ever women’s version of the match in 2019.

Since its inception there have been 39 WarGames matches but none held under the WWE’s marquee November event.

The first ever WarGames match took place at The Omni in Atlanta during the 1987 Great American Bash tour, where it was known as “War Games: The Match Beyond.”

In 1998, WCW added a different twist and converted WarGames into a three-team, nine-man competition — with the same cage and entry format — with pinfalls allowed for the No. 1 Contendership to the WCW World Heavyweight Title.

WarGames proved the ideal platform to settle famous WWE feuds.

It was originally used as a specialty match for the Four Horsemen faction under the leadership of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and over the years has seen legendary Superstars such as Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Sting, Hulk Hogan, the Road Warriors, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, Bret Hart and Roddy Piper, to name a few.

One of the most memorable WarGames matches was the first, when the Road Warriors — Nikita Koloff, Dusty Rhodes, and Paul Ellering — took on the Four Horsemen — Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger and Tully Blanchard — at the NWA Great American Bash in July 1987.

The match came at time when the Four Horsemen were running rampant in the NWA, culminating in an attack on their opponents in the previous match that resulted in Rhodes suffering a broken leg and Koloff an injured neck.

The match set the tone for future WarGames, which are not only about getting revenge and settling scores, but also about proving supremacy.


Salem Al-Dawsari undergoes successful surgery as Saudi squad prepare for US friendly

Salem Al-Dawsari undergoes successful surgery as Saudi squad prepare for US friendly
Updated 27 September 2022

Salem Al-Dawsari undergoes successful surgery as Saudi squad prepare for US friendly

Salem Al-Dawsari undergoes successful surgery as Saudi squad prepare for US friendly
  • Salman Al-Faraj, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Mohammed Al-Owais continue to recover from recent injuries

RIYADH: Al-Hilal star Salem Al-Dawsari on Monday successfully underwent stomach surgery in Alicante as Herve Renard’s Saudi Arabia squad continued their preparations for the 2022 World Cup at their Spanish training camp.

The player will now undergo a period of recovery supervised by the team’s medical staff.

Meanwhile, the rest of the squad took part in their final training session ahead of their second friendly match of the week, which will take place on Tuesday night against the US at the Nueva Condomina stadium in Murcia.

The evening training session took place at La Finca Resort under the supervision of Renard, with the trio of Salman Al-Faraj, Yasser Al-Shahrani, and Mohammed Al-Owais taking part in special exercises as they continue to recover from recent injuries.


Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson lead 48-player field at LIV Golf’s Asia debut in Thailand

Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson lead 48-player field at LIV Golf’s Asia debut in Thailand
Updated 27 September 2022

Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson lead 48-player field at LIV Golf’s Asia debut in Thailand

Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson lead 48-player field at LIV Golf’s Asia debut in Thailand
  • Golfers to vie for $25m at Stonehill course Oct. 7-9

BANGKOK: LIV Golf Invitational Chicago champion Cameron Smith and Invitational Boston winner Dustin Johnson will compete amongst an all-star 48-player field for the $25 million Bangkok title, the series’ Asian debut at Stonehill taking place from Oct. 7 to 9.

The strong lineup for the sixth event of this year’s LIV Golf Invitational Series includes four former world No. 1s and 12 major champions, including multiple major winners Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Johnson and Martin Kaymer, as well as 13 Olympians, and 20 players with 10 or more professional wins to their names.

“The LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok marks a significant step for LIV Golf in Asia, a massive market with incredible passion for the sport,” said Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf.

“Our investment in the Asian Tour with The International Series has already begun to create new opportunities in golf. This tournament in Thailand is further proof of LIV Golf’s commitment to showcasing top competition amongst the best golfers on the planet while connecting with new audiences around the world. Excitement continues to build with each event, and we can’t wait to deliver a memorable tournament at Stonehill, a one-of-a-kind venue.”

In Bangkok, players will once again compete for a purse of $25 million and the chance to become LIV Golf’s sixth individual and team champions, earning points toward the season-long individual competition.

In addition to watching a number of major champions, local fans will have another reason to cheer at the new Stonehill course, with Thai players Sadom Kaewkanjana and Phachara Khongwatmai once again competing in the high-profile field thanks to their standings in the Asian Tour and International Series Order of Merit.

The International Series is the Asian Tour’s new marquee events established through a 10-year, $300-million partnership with LIV Golf, with tournaments in Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Egypt, Morocco, and England.


Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks to host youth programs in Abu Dhabi

Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks to host youth programs in Abu Dhabi
Updated 27 September 2022

Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks to host youth programs in Abu Dhabi

Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks to host youth programs in Abu Dhabi
  • League’s first ‘Jr. NBA Week’ in Mideast for 2,000 young basketball players and coaches through clinics and camps
  • The teams will play two preseason games on Oct. 6 and 8 at Etihad Arena on Yas Island

ABU DHABI: The National Basketball Association announced on Tuesday a series of youth engagement programs in collaboration with the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks as part of The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022.

The activities, which will include the league’s first “Jr. NBA Week” in the Middle East, will run from Monday, Oct. 3 to Sunday, Oct. 9, with nearly 2,000 youth, coaches and basketball stakeholders from the UAE, the region and Europe.

The week will consist of clinics and camps focused on teaching the game, promoting health and wellness, and empowering the next generation of female players and coaches. The events will feature appearances by Hawks and Bucks players and coaches, NBA and WNBA legends, and US Basketball Head Coach/Coach Director, Youth & Sport Development Don Showalter.

The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will feature the Hawks and the 2021 NBA champions Bucks playing two preseason games at Etihad Arena on Yas Island on Thursday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 8, marking the league’s first games in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf.

The games are part of a groundbreaking multiyear collaboration between the NBA and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi that earlier this year saw the launch of the first Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, a youth basketball competition for 450 boys and girls aged 11 to 14 from schools across the city.

The collaboration also includes a variety of interactive fan events featuring appearances by current and former NBA players, a series of NBA FIT clinics promoting health and wellness, and an NBA 2K League exhibition event.

The week’s activities include, among others:

Atlanta Hawks Youth Program Oct. 3

Hawks players and coaches will lead three simultaneous youth development events at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus’ three-court facility, including clinics for boys and girls from the first Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League and the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics program. There is also an NBA FIT clinic for local youth that will focus on the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle. The participants will attend the game on Oct. 6.

NBA Coaching Clinics Oct. 3 to 4

The assistant coaches of the Hawks, Joe Prunty and Mike Longabardi, and those of the Bucks, Mike Dunlap and Vince Legarza, will host clinics for over 300 male and female basketball coaches from the UAE.

Milwaukee Bucks Youth Program Oct. 4

Bucks players and coaches will offer drills for members of the NBA Basketball School in Dubai and the Jr. NBA Elite Training Camp at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus.

Jr. NBA School Clinics Oct. 4 to 5

The NBA will conduct eight clinics for boys and girls at local schools across Abu Dhabi, two of which will be attended by NBA Legend Dominique Wilkins and WNBA Legend Ticha Penicheiro (Portugal). The clinics will focus on teamwork, skills and healthy habits.

NBA Hoops For Troops Meet & Greets

In collaboration with the United Service Organizations, the NBA will host members of the US military for meet and greets with NBA legends at both games.

Jr. NBA Elite Training Camp Oct. 4 to 9

The NBA will host 25 of the top boys and girls from Jr. NBA leagues across Europe and the Middle East, and the NBA Basketball School in Dubai, at an elite training camp in Abu Dhabi. The athletes, from 11 countries, were selected following a Jr. NBA Elite Camp in Rome in May. They will participate in training and competitions with the NBA Basketball School from Dubai and the UAE under-18 Men’s National Team.

Her Time To Play Clinic Oct. 8

The NBA will host a “Her Time To Play” clinic at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus for 70 girls from the Jr. NBA Elite Training Camp and the NBA Basketball School in Dubai. Participants will engage in a clinic and conversations focused on female empowerment and opportunities in sports and leadership, highlighted by a talk with Penicheiro.