Serena Williams can call it “evolving” or “retiring” or whatever she wants. And she can be coy about whether or not this U.S. Open will actually mark the end of her playing days. Those 23 Grand Slam titles earned that right.
If she keeps playing like this, who knows how long this farewell will last?
No matter what happens once her trip to Flushing Meadows is over, here is what is important to know after Wednesday night: The 40-year-old Williams is still around, she’s still capable of terrific tennis, she’s still winning – and, like the adoring spectators whose roars filled Arthur Ashe Stadium again – she’s ready for more.
Williams eliminated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in the U.S. Open’s second round to ensure that she will play at least one more singles match at what she’s hinted will be the last tournament of her illustrious career.
“There’s still a little left in me,” Williams said with a smile during her on-court interview, then acknowledged during her post-match news conference: “These moments are clearly fleeting.”
After beating 80th-ranked Danka Kovinic in straight sets Monday, then collecting her 23rd victory in her past 25 matches against someone ranked Nos. 1 or 2 against Kontaveit on Wednesday, the six-time champion at Flushing Meadows will play Friday for a spot in the fourth round.
Her opponent will be Ajla Tomljanovic, a 29-year-old Australian who is ranked 46th. They’ve never met, but Tomljanovic, who said she considers herself a Williams fan, figures she knows what to anticipate from the American – and from those in the seats.
“I was playing on Court 7 both of my matches so far at the same time as her, and I could hear the crowd. I’m like, `Court 7 isn’t that close.’ I kept thinking, `Oh, my God, that’s annoying me and I’m not even playing against her,”’ Tomljanovic said. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it.”
Making Williams’ potential path possibly simpler if she can get past Tomljanovic: 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez and 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova both lost.
On Wednesday, Williams hit serves at up to 119 mph, stayed with Kontaveit during lengthy exchanges of big swings from the baselines and conjured up some of her trademark brilliance when it was needed most.
After pulling out a tight first set, then faltering in the second, Williams headed to the locker room for a bathroom break before the third.
Something had to give, someone had to blink.
When they resumed, it was Williams who lifted her level and emerged as the better player.
Just as she’s done so many times, on so many stages, with so much at stake.
“I’m just Serena. After I lost the second set, I thought, `Oh, my goodness, I better give my best effort because this could be it,”’ Williams said, surely echoing the thoughts of everyone paying any attention.
“I never get to play like this – since ‘98, really,” she said. “Literally, I’ve had an `X’ on my back since ‘99,” the year she claimed her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open at age 17.
Whatever rust accumulated when Williams missed about a year of action before returning to the tour in late June appears to have vanished. She was 1-3 in 2022 entering the U.S. Open.
“Now it’s kind of coming together,” Williams said. “I mean, it had to come together today.”
Williams has doubles to play, too. She and her sister, Venus, have won 14 major championships as a team and will begin that event Thursday night.
Kontaveit, a 26-year-old from Estonia, is a powerful hitter in her own right, the sort that spread across women’s tennis over the past two decades after a pair of siblings from Compton, California, changed the game.
But there’s a caveat attached to Kontaveit’s ranking: She has never won so much as one quarterfinal match at any Grand Slam tournament in 30 career appearances.
So maybe that’s why, much like with Kovinic 48 hours earlier, Williams’ opponent was introduced just by her name, and Kontaveit walked out to a smattering of applause. Williams, in contrast, got the full treatment: highlight video, a listing of her many accolades and a loud greeting from folks part of the largest U.S. Open attendance ever at a night session, 29,959, eclipsing the record set Monday.
“It was her moment,” said Kontaveit, who began crying during the Estonian portion of her news conference and cut it short. “Of course, this is totally about her.”
As strident a competitor as tennis, or any sport, has seen, as rightly self-confident in her abilities as any athlete, Williams was not about to think of this whole exercise as merely a celebration of her career.
She came to New York wanting to win, of course.
Wearing the same glittery crystal-encrusted top and diamond-accented sneakers – replete with solid gold shoelace tags and the word “Queen” on the right one, “Mama” on the left – that she sported Monday, Williams was ready for prime time.
The match began with Kontaveit grabbing the first five points, Williams the next five. And on they went, back and forth. Kontaveit’s mistakes were cheered – even faults, drawing an admonishment for the crowd from chair umpire Alison Hughes about making noise between serves.
Early in the third set, Kontaveit hit a cross-court forehand that caught the outermost edge of a sideline. A video on the stadium screens showed just how close it was, confirming that the ball did, indeed, land in. That brought out boos from the stands. Williams raised her arm and wagged a finger, telling her backers not to cause a fuss.
If anything, Kontaveit received more acknowledgment from the player trying to defeat her than anyone else, as Williams would respond to great shots with a nod or a racket clap.
“They were not rooting against me. They just wanted Serena to win so bad,” Kontaveit said, calling the treatment she received “fair,” even if it was “something I never experienced before.”
Williams broke for a 5-4 edge when Kontaveit pushed a backhand long, spurring yelling spectators to rise to their feet – and Williams’ husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, jumped right in, too, waving his arms in her direction, in front of where Venus and Tiger Woods were two seats apart.
Eventually they went to a tiebreaker, and at 3-3, a chant of “Let’s go, Serena!” broke out, accompanied by rhythmic clapping. Soon, Williams delivered a 101 mph service winner and a 91 mph ace to seal that set.
To Kontaveit’s credit, she raced to a 3-0 edge in the second with 10 winners and zero unforced errors.
In the third, after a swinging forehand volley winner put Williams a game from victory, she raised both arms, then clenched her left fist.
One game, and five minutes later, it was over – and her stay at the U.S. Open could proceed.
Asked whether she’s a title contender, Williams answered: “I can not think that far. I’m having fun and I’m enjoying it.”
Mariners-Blue Jays 2022 Wild Card Series Game 1 FAQ – MLB.com
TORONTO — After regular-season campaigns with very few dull moments, two postseason-hungry clubs are ready for October.
The Blue Jays and Mariners face off in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series on Friday at Rogers Centre.
Seattle snapped the largest active playoff drought in MLB by securing the second AL Wild Card spot with a 90-72 regular-season record, while Toronto will play a postseason game in front of its fans for the first time since 2016.
Since the Blue Jays secured home-field advantage by finishing the regular season with the best record among AL Wild Card teams, at 92-70, all of the games in the best-of-three set will be played at Rogers Centre. The winner gets a date with the Astros in the American League Division Series.
For both teams, this moment is a balancing act between excitement and the demands of the spotlight.
“It’s the postseason, where confidence can play an important role here,” Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos. “And when I go up on that mound, I’m very confident.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 1: Friday, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, ESPN (Sportsnet in Canada)
Game 2: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, ESPN (Sportsnet in Canada)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, ABC (Sportsnet in Canada)
All series are available in the US on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are not available live internationally (archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends).
What might the starting lineups look like?
Mariners: Manager Scott Servais hinted on Thursday that the lineup will likely look similar to what he’s rolled out in recent weeks, with Julio Rodríguez and Ty France at the top, followed by Mitch Haniger, Eugenio Suárez and Carlos Santana in some order. Servais likes to go right-left when possible, especially against a power pitcher like Manoah.
Blue Jays: Toronto’s biggest decision comes at the DH spot, but with Alejandro Kirk catching Manoah in Game 1, Danny Jansen has been swinging the bat too well to keep him out of the lineup. This is close to the order that the Blue Jays were using down the stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox as they tried to clinch a postseason spot, then home field.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Mariners: Castillo (8-6, 2.99 ERA) takes the mound bringing supreme confidence after a stellar 11-start stretch after the Mariners acquired him ahead of the Trade Deadline. Though his postseason experience is limited to 2020, when there were no fans in the stands, Castillo has already established himself as a big-game pitcher and welcomes this stage.
Blue Jays: Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA) opens the series, and the Blue Jays couldn’t be happier. The big right-hander is built for the postseason and seems to feed off the moment and crowd as well as anyone in baseball. September’s AL Pitcher of the Month is peaking at the right time, and he should benefit from some extra rest just like he did in his last outing.
Mariners: Sam Haggerty (Grade 2 right adductor strain) won’t be on the postseason roster after suffering the injury on Monday, dealing the Mariners a big blow for their sparkplug off the bench. Jesse Winker (cervical disc bulge) also hit the 10-day IL this week, though his role was more unclear given his significant defensive struggles and brutal second half at the plate. Instead, the Mariners will lean on Taylor Trammell and Abraham Toro, the players who were recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take those guys’ places.
Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left hamstring strain) and Santiago Espinal (left oblique strain) both flew home from Baltimore early this week to continue their rehabs in the controlled atmosphere at Rogers Centre, and each decision is expected to come right down to the wire. It’s also a question of just how ready either would be after Gurriel said Monday that he may only be ready to pinch-hit by the postseason opener. Would that be enough, especially considering the talent already in this lineup?
The only issue on the pitching side is expected to be a minor one and no longer an issue by Game 2, but Kevin Gausman left his final regular-season outing with a cut on his right middle finger, near the nail. Both Gausman and manager John Schneider said this shouldn’t impact his expected Game 2 start, but it’s worth keeping an eye on over the next 24 hours.
Who is hot and who is not?
Mariners: Rodríguez rocketed his 28th homer in the regular-season finale, putting the finishing touches on an AL Rookie of the Year Award bid, and given how much he already relishes the big stage, it’s a strong bet that he’ll impact this series. As for who’s not, Crawford’s inconsistencies have stretched all the way into a two-month period, with the shortstop slashing .200/.340/.259 (.599 OPS) over the final two months.
Blue Jays: Several Blue Jays are peaking at the right time, which started with Bichette in September. Bichette hit .403 with a 1.134 OPS that month, his 48 hits the most in a single month by a Blue Jays hitter. Merrifield has caught fire since taking over everyday reps from Espinal, too, flashing some power down the stretch and completely flipping the script on his ‘22 season with the Blue Jays. Jansen, who started the year hot then hit the IL with a fractured bone in his hand, is back in a groove, too, and could be an X-factor in this series at the bottom of the lineup.
If there’s one hitter the Blue Jays need more from, though, it’s Guerrero. He’s had his moments, like his walk-off hit to beat the Yankees in 10 innings on Sept. 26, but he simply hasn’t been the hitter everyone saw in ‘21, when he looked like a perennial MVP candidate and Triple Crown threat. Guerrero’s potential impact is unrivaled, though, and the Blue Jays need him to break a game open.
Anything else I should know?
Mariners: Seattle hasn’t been on this stage in a generation, and there are only a handful of players on the roster who have any postseason experience. Because of how green they are, they could be susceptible to a sink-or-swim effect, but they’ve also shown late-inning resiliency to punch back when the stakes are high.
Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are ready to be aggressive, a mindset they’ve been preaching since Schneider took the reins in July. That starts on the bases, where the Blue Jays have done a much better job of taking extra bags, but it could extend to bullpen usage, too. Jordan Romano, the Canadian closer coming off a season with a 2.11 ERA and 36 saves, has made nine multi-inning (1 1/3 or more frames) appearances this season. They certainly won’t shy away from another.
Stutzle's three-point night propels Senators over Canadiens in Gander, N.L. – Sportsnet.ca
Tim Stutzle recorded a goal and two assists as the Ottawa Senators won their third consecutive game over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 Thursday in pre-season action at the Steele Community Centre in Gander, N.L.
Drake Batherson opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the game, followed by a Brady Tkachuk goal under eight minutes later as Ottawa (4-3) took an early 2-0 lead.
Kaiden Guhle put Montreal (0-6-1) on the board 12:23 into the first period to cut the deficit.
In the second, Kirby Dach scored a power-play goal to even the game for the Canadiens 5:13 into the period. However, Stutzle responded six minutes later to put Ottawa up once again.
Claude Giroux added to the Senators’ lead 8:02 into the final period. Josh Anderson scored for Montreal a minute later but that was all the Canadiens could muster.
Anton Forsberg stopped 20-of-23 shots he faced in the victory while his counterpart Cayden Primeau made 22 saves for Montreal.
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Online gambling in Canada: The risks and how to stay safe
Gambling is a popular pastime in Canada, with many people regularly taking part in activities such as the lottery, casinos, and online gambling.
While gambling can be a fun and enjoyable way to spend time, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved.
How to online gamble safely in Canada – A guide for beginners
There are a few things to keep in mind when gambling online in Canada, especially if you’re a beginner.
First and foremost, you should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. It’s also important to set limits for yourself – both on how much you’re willing to spend and how much time you’re willing to spend gambling.
It’s also a good idea to do some research before you start gambling. This means reading up on the different types of games available on N°1 guide to online gambling in Canada, as well as the odds of winning. Once you have a good understanding of the basics, you can then start looking for an online casino that offers the games and odds that you’re interested in.
What are the risks of online gambling in Canada?
There are a few risks associated with online gambling in Canada, but they are relatively minor. The biggest risk is probably financial, as it can be easy to get carried away and spend more money than you intended to.
Another risk is that of addiction, as gambling can be quite addictive. If you find yourself spending more and more time gambling, or if you start neglecting other aspects of your life in favor of gambling, it might be time to seek help.
Finally, there is the risk of getting scammed. There are a lot of scams out there, and some of them target people who gamble online. Be sure to do your research and only gamble with reputable sites to minimize this risk.
What types of online gambling are available in Canada?
The most popular type is online casino gambling, which includes games such as slots, blackjack, roulette, and poker. There are also many sports betting websites available in Canada, where you can bet on your favourite teams and players. Finally, there are also online lottery websites where you can purchase tickets for various lottery games.
So if you’re thinking about gambling online, remember to do your research, choose a reputable site, and most importantly, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.
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