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5:17PM

Newsday (N.Y.): Wimbledon is Serena Williams’ fourth chance at Grand Slam No. 22

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams said she feels different at this Wimbledon, “more relaxed, more at peace than I have been in the past.”

Is she trying to make believers out of us, or out of herself?


Copyright © 2016 Newsday. All rights reserved.

8:50AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Serena Williams reaches Wimbledon final, but sister Venus ousted in semis

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams never lost her serve. Sister Venus had trouble even holding hers. And so one last all-Williams final at Wimbledon, where they’ve made so much history — and, in Serena’s case, still making it — is not to be.

Serena needed only 48 minutes to crush Russia’s bewildered Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-0, on Thursday in the first women’s semifinal on Centre Court, dropping only three of a possible 31 points on her serve. “Serve is very important for me,” Serena affirmed.

Read the full story here. 

Copyright © 2016 Newsday. All rights reserved.

8:58AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Vandeweghe, Serena advance on rare ‘Middle Sunday’ at Wimbledon

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

WIMBLEDON, England — It was a day that had occurred only three times the previous 138 years of the Championships, a day so special there was an imprint on the program cover, “Middle Sunday.” A day that left Coco Vandeweghe enthralled, Serena Williams noncommittal and weary John Isner understandably disenchanted.

Frequent rain had forced Wimbledon to go against its best plans, and the wishes of the town that makes up one of many in greater London. Wimbledon, Borough of Merton, chooses for players, grass courts and the thousands of fans who overwhelm to have a break the end of opening week. But when the weather messes up the schedule, then there’s Middle Sunday, or because tickets are available to anyone who moves fast, “People’s Sunday.”

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2016 Newsday. All rights reserved.

7:28AM

Wimbledon may be just what a chaotic Britain needs

By Art Spander

WIMBLEDON, England — Chaos anyone? Sorry, I meant tennis anyone. Yes, another Wimbledon, with fans queuing overnight and swallowing strawberries and cream. But really not another Wimbledon.

This is the first Wimbledon after, against the best advice, Great Britain waved goodbye to logic and the rest of Europe, voting itself into isolation and, some warn, economic disaster. Brexit was the clever phrase about the not-so-clever move out of the European Union.

It’s been like threatening to leave home when you’re 13,” the novelist Howard Jacobsen wrote Sunday in the Observer about the vote. “You hope it will scare the living daylights out of your parents. But only the insane actually do it.”

So perhaps the return of the All-England Championships for a 130th time is specifically what the battered, shattered non-united kingdom needs to remind itself that all is not lost, unless like poor Englishman James Ward on Monday you had to face Novak Djokovic and were dropped 7-0, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

As always there is change. The newsstand next to Wimbledon’s first aid office has closed, another blow to journalism. Ah, but the shuttle cabs from Southfields station on the District Line — “Alight here Wimbledon tennis,” advises a disembodied voice — still cost two pounds, 50 pence. Even though, because of the pound’s devaluation, the dollar cost is less than it was last Friday, something like $3.23 as opposed to $3.60.

And Venus Williams, who turned 36 a week and a half ago, still plays capably, despite the years and the anti-immune syndrome from which she has suffered. On this very memorable first day, Venus, a surprisingly high eighth seed, beat Donna Vekic of Croatia, 7-6, 6-4.

“I still feel 26,” said Venus, who won women’s singles in 2000 — 16 years ago for heaven’s sake — and three other times. “I don’t know if anyone feels older. You have this infinity inside of you that feels like you could go forever. That’s how I feel on the court. As long as I can get my racquet on the ball, I think I can make something happen.”

Younger sister Serena (who will be 35 in September) is defending champion. Yet Serena, favored at the subsequent U.S. Open in an attempt to win the true "Grand Slam" or all four majors in a calendar year, was upset in the semifinals. Serena then lost in the finals of both the Australian Open in January and the French, three weeks ago.

She plays Tuesday as tradition holds: the women’s champ returning the second day, the men’s, the seemingly unbeatable Djokovic, the first day. “The first part of the match,” confirmed Djokovic of his play against Ward, “was almost flawless. So I’m very pleased with the way I started Wimbledon.”

Djokovic, of course, is from Serbia, which is waiting to be accepted into the European Union. Well, there’s an extra space now, isn’t there? One country wanted out, another wants in. Seems like a good swap, knowing the way the British majority voted.

“I’m just curious to see what the future holds for Britain and for the European Union,” said Djokovic when quizzed about the loss of money from Wimbledon due to the pound's decline. “I’m not in a position to more profoundly discuss this matter.”

Nor would he speculate on whether he can do what Serena in 2015 could not, win a Grand Slam, last accomplished by a male player by Rod Laver in 1969 — who also won all four in 1962 as an amateur.

The only other Grand Slam winner was Don Budge, in 1938. Budge, who grew up in Oakland where the courts he learned on are now named for him, wanted to be a baseball player. Joe DiMaggio, who grew up across the bay in San Francisco, told Budge he had hoped to play tennis. The second choice wasn’t bad for either.

Djokovic, 29, beginning with last year’s Wimbledon, has won the last four majors, a “Novak Slam,” if you will, but he’s still only halfway to the Grand Slam, needing victories here and in September at the U.S. Open. Serena, hesitant last summer to ruminate about her chances, is very willing to do so about Djokovic’s this summer.

"He has every opportunity to do it," she said. "I think he'll get it easy. So he should be fine."

Not to be the skeptic, but didn’t the experts predict the Brits would choose to stay in the European Union? We all make mistakes. Especially, we’re told, the British electorate.

4:54PM

Palm Springs Life: What's in Brand? Plenty in Tennis

By Art Spander
Palm Springs Life

Hollywood figured it out almost as soon as there were movies: Fame sells.

You didn’t need actors who knew Shakespeare — not that it wasn’t acceptable — but actors and actresses who were known. The two worst words for box office weren’t “No talent,” but “Who’s he?” The same thing for golf and tennis.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Desert Publications. All rights reserved.