Already regarded as the greatest women’s player ever to pick up a tennis racquet, Serena Williams’s legacy is already assured but the record equaling 24th Grand Slam that would help build statistical proof remains frustratingly out of reach.
Twenty years ago a 17-year-old Williams walked away from the U.S. Open with what would be the first of her 23 Grand Slam titles. On Saturday she had the chance to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record but instead it was Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu grabbing the trophy with a 6-3 7-5 win.
That victory not only raised questions about whether Williams would ever get beyond 23 Grand Slam titles, many also viewed 19-year-old Andreescu’s win as a changing of the guard in women’s tennis.
Since giving birth to her daughter in 2017, Williams has not won a tournament.
Four times now, twice at Wimbledon (2018, 2019) and at the U.S. Open (2018, 2019) Williams has come agonizingly close to that 24th Grand Slam only to fall at the final hurdle.
She did not just lose all four finals — she failed to win a single set.
The next time Williams can attempt to equal Court’s record at the Australian Open in January she would be 38, the climb to the summit ever steeper.
But a defiant Williams refused to accept there would not be another Grand Slam in her future.
“All of it honestly, truly is super frustrating,” said Williams. “I’m, like, so close, so close, so close, yet so far away.
“I don’t know what to say. I guess I got to keep going if I want to be a professional tennis player.
“And I just got to just keep fighting through it.
“I’m not necessarily chasing a record. I’m just trying to win Grand Slams.
“It’s definitely frustrating. I’m still doing what I can do.”
MOVING THE NEEDLE
Like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, Williams is an athlete who moves the needle.
What she wears, eats and says matters.
In the Big Apple, where there is no shortage of distractions for A-listers on a Saturday afternoon, it was the Serena Williams show that was the hot ticket.
When the Queen of Tennis holds court in New York it attracts sporting royalty and on occasion the real thing. Williams’s good friend Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was cheering her on from the players box.
But no amount of support, royal or otherwise, could lift Williams to the level she needed on Saturday, Andreescu breaking the former world number one to open the final and never letting her opponent get her nose in front.
Williams’s power game has never been in question. Her serve and crushing forehands can still strike fear into opponents.
But the rest of Williams’s game has begun to show signs of wear of time.
She can no longer command the court the way she once did, and her coach Patrick Mouratoglou suggested Williams’s greatest weapon — her unshakable confidence — had faltered under the weight of her own high expectations.
Before the U.S. Open the air of invincibility that once surrounded Williams had all but vanished.
Then she arrived at the doors to Flushing Meadows and looked unbeatable, steamrolling her way into her 10th U.S. Open final.
This was not an old Williams. This was the Williams of old.
Any concerns over the back spasms that forced her to quit the Toronto final and pull out of Cincinnati were eased when Williams opened her Flushing Meadows account with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of old rival Maria Sharapova.
That was followed by routine wins over Karolina Muchova, Petra Martica and Cat McNally before blasting her way into the last four with a jaw dropping 6-1 6-0 rout of China’s Wang Qiang to register her 100th U.S. Open victory.
An even more ruthless 6-3 6-1 semi-final win over fifth seed Elina Svitolina seemed to indicate that the title was there for the taking.
But on Saturday she was looking across the net at a mirror image of her younger self.
A player with a big serve, thundering forehand, all court game, intensity and a cat burglar’s cool, reports Reuters.
Down a set and 5-1 the stress and frustration was written all over Williams’s face.
Then the spirit of a champion took over, Williams fighting off match point and sweeping through four games to level the set and sending a jolt of electricity through a seething Arthur Ashe Stadium.
But in the end youth was served, Andreescu living up to expectations and Williams unable to live up to her own.
Aribo has great Eagles’ future, says Aghahowa
Former Nigeria international, Julius Aghahowa, has made glowing remarks about Glasgow Rangers midfielder, Joe Aribo, saying he is a promising player that needs all the support and backing to excel for the Super Eagles.
Aribo scored a fantastic goal in the first half of the friendly against Brazil on Sunday and Aghahowa believes the former Charlton Athletic central midfielder has a bright future with the Super Eagles only if he gets the required support to excel and shine.
“Aribo did very well against Brazil from his central midfield position. I believe he has what it takes to wear the number 10 jersey and do well. He scored a brilliant goal which was his second in as many games for Nigeria. He has the heart to go very far representing Nigeria,” Aghahowa said.
Aghahowa also gave kudos to the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen and Alex Iwobi who didn’t disappoint in the game, pointing out that the future is very bright for Nigeria with this array of wonderful talents.
Stage friendlies with African teams, Lawal tells NFF
Ex-Super Eagles midfielder Dimeji Lawal has advised the Nigerian Football Federation to organise friendly matches with African teams for the Super Eagles.
The former international however prefers the team to play more African opposition than teams from other continents.
He was speaking after Nigeria was forced to a 1-1 draw by Brazil in an interesting friendly encounter decided in Singapore on Sunday.
Lawal , 48 is of the opinion that the Eagles will benefit from playing with neighbouring countries as they still have a lot to learn from confronting such opposition.
“Now that we have learnt something from Brazil, we should go to another continent and see what their football is like and maybe we should come back to Africa and see what we can benefit from playing against our counterparts,” he told New Telegraph.
“it’s not about the names alone sometimes you play against a team that you think is low in category but they give you things to learn. For people to think that after playing against Brazil they should fix a friendly match with another big team like Germany is wrong , football doesn’t work that way; a team should learn from every cadre.”
GOtv Boxing Night Mini debuts
A mini version of the hugely successful GOtv Boxing Night, tagged GOtv Boxing Night Mini, is set to start. The inaugural edition will hold on November 16 at the Rowe Park, Yaba, Lagos. This was announced yesterday by the organisers, Flykite Productions, at a media sit-in in Lagos.
Jenkins Alumona, CEO Flykite, explained that GOtv Boxing Night Mini was conceived to provide more frequent opportunities for boxers as a means of ensuring that they get requisite number of fights to make them eligible for sub-regional, continental and international title bouts.
“Our boxers have, despite the best efforts of GOtv Boxing Night, inadequate opportunities to fight and build their fight records, which they need to become eligible for international titles. GOtv Boxing Night Mini, which will be staged with more frequency than the main event, will address this challenge,” he said.
Alumona also explained that the 20th edition of GOtv Boxing Night, which was planned to hold last Saturday, has been fused into the mega edition of the event slated for December. The development, he said, was imposed by the injury suffered in training by Oto “Joe Boy” Joseph, African Boxing Union (ABU) lightweight champion, who was scheduled to defend his title against Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, West African Boxing Union champion in the much-anticipated headline bout.
He added that hopes that the injury would heal on time proved misplaced, as sports medicine experts advised that the injury-a shoulder breach-be allowed a longer recuperation period to avoid aggravation.
Some of the other boxers slated to fight at GOtv Boxing Night 20 will, however, feature at GOtv Boxing Night Mini. These include Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi and Cynthia “Baby Girl” Ogunsemilore. Also lined up to be in action is Waheed “Skoro” Usman, former ABU featherweight champion.
Rohr predicts good future for Eagles
Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr believes the Super Eagles have ‘good future’ after they played out a 1-1 draw against Brazil in Sunday’s international friendly in Singapore.
The 66-year-old German tactician paraded a young team against the five-time world champions, following a spate of withdrawals by some of his experienced players, including captain Ahmed Musa.
The team, however, gave a good account of themselves with Joe Aribo – making his second appearance for the Super Eagles – scoring the opening goal in the 35th minute before Casemiro’s second-half effort saved the South American champions from defeat.
Rohr is impressed with the performance of his side but admitted the three-time African champions still have to improve.
“It was tough for us as the second game because Brazil would not have wanted to leave Singapore without winning, and it feels very good to know that we can play so well against some of the biggest names in football,” Rohr said in a post-match press conference.
“We didn’t have our best team here, but our wingers gave Brazil a lot of problems on the counter-attack and I am proud of our players. They can have a good future.
“We can still improve in defending set-pieces. We have height, with players as tall as two metres, but we have to be better in the air.
“It is not enough just to have good size, they need to jump well with good timing.”
Rohr believes African football is improving after both Nigeria and Senegal avoided defeat against the world number three.
“These results are good for African football when Senegal and Nigeria did not lose to Brazil, one of the strongest teams in the world,” he added.
Nigeria will hope to secure good results when they take on Benin Republic and Lesotho in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games in November.
Barca target Osimhen as Suarez’s replacement
Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen’s rising profile has caught the attention of European giants Barcelona who have viewed him as a long term replacement for their talismanic forward Luis Suarez.
According to a report by Spanish sports newspaper AS which was monitored by our correspondent, Osimhem top the list of youngsters that have been scouted as ideal replacements for the Uruguayan striker.
Osimhen has set Europe on fire after netting seven league goals for Lille in his debut season in the French Championat. The former Wolfsburg forward also scored his first UEFA Champions League goal against Chelsea last month.
The striker has also solidified his place in the Nigerian team after great showing against Ukrainse and Brazil.
Other players on the shopping list of Barcelona are Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Donyell Malen (PSV) and Rafael Leao (AC Milan).
Lille sports director Campos has already hinted that Osimhen is poised for “a big move” soon.
Osimhen has a contract with Lille till 2024.
He has previously been linked with a transfer to AC Milan before he finally joined Lille from Belgian club Sporting Charleroi.
Ikoyi Club thanks sponsors after tennis meet
Team Lekki have emerged the winners of the EKODC Team Tennis Championship which was rounded off at the weekend at the Ikoyi Club 1938 following a 10-7 win over Team Anifowoshe.
Both teams who are from the Blue Group set up a final meeting having triumphed over Team Ikate and Team Ademola in the semifinals and it was Team Anifowoshe that seemed to be coasting home to victory following the 6-2, 6-2 doubles win by Ishmael Nwokocha and Sesan Dada over Labisi Abayomi and Chizoba Onuoha.
With the scores tied at 7-7, it was left for Kayode Awokoya and Tochukwu Adino to decide whose side the pendulum of victory swings and it was Adino, who trailed for most part of the decisive tie break, that carried the day 10-8 to clinch the priceless three points at stake for team Lekki who also have Sule Mustapha, Kola Alawaiye, Kunle Ajayi, Steve Ezeagu and Toyin Leo Olagbegi.
EKODC MD, Engr Adeoye Fadeyibi, expressed delight at the successful completion of the tournament stressing it’s a great privilege to be the spo0sor of one of the biggest tournament at the elite Ikoyi Club.
Fadeyibi, who was represented by Joseph Esenwa,, the Chief Financial Officer of EKODC, noted that Ikoyi club is part of the EKODC network promising better services in the coming years.
Ikoyi Club Chairman, Yomi Orenuga ,pointed that the Tennis Section continue to be the major light in the Club stating it is never a dull moment at the tennis section while section chairman, Bimbo Okubena, thanked the sponsor for enhancing the camaraderie and togetherness of members.
Ijora Causeway, Badagry Expressway, Fowler and Igbo-Efon are the other teams that featured in the 64- player nine-day tournament.
Pillars raise the alarm over unpaid prize monies
Several months after winning this year’s Aiteo Cup and runners up of the last Nigeria Professional Football League Kano Pillars Football Club are disturbed that the prize monies are still being withheld by the Nigeria Football Federation.
Pillars spokesman Rilwanu Malikawa said that several months after Pillars beat Niger Tornadoes to win a first-ever Aiteo Cup, the club are yet to receive N25m prize money.
“We have not received the prize money and we have no information on when the NFF will pay this money,” Malikawa disclosed.
“We hope we can get this money soon.”
The Pillars spokesman said the same is the case with the prize money due to the club for emerging runners-up in the NPFL behind champions Enyimba last season.
Three years ago the League Management Company paid the NPFL champions 40 million Naira.
“We hope we can get this money before the new NPFL season kicks off,” he said.
Zenith Bank /Delta Principals ‘Cup hits zonal stage
…25 teams qualify from LGs
The Zenith Bank /Delta Principals Cup Football Competition is getting tougher as the event enters the zonal stage on Wednesday in eight different centres.
At the weekend, a total of 25 teams emerged as champions in all the Local Government Areas of Delta State and the teams were divided into eight groups for the zonal eliminations.
The teams that qualified from the LG preliminaries are Azagba Mixed Sec Sch, Issele-Azagba from Aniocha North, Comprehensive Sec Sch, Ogwashi-Uku from Anocha South, Okoloba Sec. Sch, Okoloba from Bomadi, Ogulagha Sec Sch, Ogulagha from Burutu, Okpara Boys Sec Sch, Okpara Inland from Ethipie East, Ihwighwu Sec Sch, Ijomi-Oghara from Ethiope West, Mixed Sec Sch, Abavo, Ika South, Ezomo Sec Sch, Boji Boji Owa from Ika North East, Alaka Gram Sch, Ozoro from Isoko North and Emore Gram Sch, Oleh from Isoko South.
Other LG winners include Igbuku Sec Sch from Igbuku Ndokwa East, Utagba-Ogbe Gram Sch, Kwale from Ndokwa West, Orerokpe Sec Sch, Orerokpe from Okpe, Okpanam High Sch, Okpanam from Oshimili North and Zappa Mixed Sec Sch, Asaba from Oshimili South.
Head of the organizing team,Tony Pemu, told journalists on Monday that the LG preliminaries was the most dramatic and dicey.
Pemu said: “It involves so many logistics here and there especially monitoring of these matches. Now, we are down to eight centres and only 25 teams and we will still continue the screening process as we move on because we want true champions to emerge.
“The competition end this year unlike the previous ones that spills to the next year. For example, all the quarterfinal games are billed for October 30 in four different centres while the semis will take place in early November.”
The state’s Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Chief Patrick Ukah, expressed delight at the progress of the competition.
“I am very happy that things are going according to our plans and we expect that the standard will continue to increase as we move on,” Ukah said.
Lagos Open: Hemery, Nahimana win first leg
Calvin Hemery and Sada Nahimana have emerged the champions in the men’s and women’s singles of the first leg of the on-going 2019 Lagos Open Tennis Championship.
On the centre court of the Lagos Lawn Tennis Court, Hemery, who is from France, defeated Aldin Sektic from Bosnia & Herzegovina 6-1, 6-2 in the final of the men’s singles.
16-year-old Nahimana from Burundi was the cynosure of all eyes after she defeated more experienced Brazil’s Laura Pigossi 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Laura Pigossi from Brazil paired India’s Rutuja Bhosale to beat the India-Egypt duo of Sandra Samir & Prarthana Thombare 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 to win in the women doubles.
In the men doubles, Aziz Dougaz/Skander Mansouri defeated Benjamin Lock/Courtney Lock 7-6(4), 6-3.
The second leg of the Lagos Open starts today.
Edo 2020: LOC adopts queen Idah’s face for nsf
- As Bet9ja bags official betting company
The Local Organizing Committee for the 2020 National Sports Festival ( NSF) has adopted Queen Idah as the face of the festival as it also named Bet9ja as official betting company.
The Chairman of the Publicity and Communication Sub Committee Mr. Tony Akiotu made this known in Benin City during a meeting at the weekend.
Akiotu, who is the Group Managing Director of Daar Communications, owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM, said, “The LOC has adopted popular Benin Warrior, Queen Idah as the face of the 2020 NSF. Queen Idah was chosen during the last meeting of the Main Organizing Committee and the choice was a unanimous one”.
Akiotu also disclosed that Bet9ja has been officially chosen as the betting company of the festival having met the Marketing Sub Committee’s requirement.
“Bet9ja is the official betting company of the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival. The Company’s bid of one billion Naira (N1billion) has been accepted.
Aside Bet9Nja, the marketing department is working round the clock to raise enough money for the hosting of the festival,” he said.
He also disclosed that a Theme Song for the festival, which was sang in the three major languages in Edo state, has also been chosen
“The LOC has chosen a Theme Song sang by the Edo state chapter of PMAN in Bini, Esan and Afenmai. It is a well orchestrated song that will be loved by all when it is eventually launched on October 17 and 28 in Benin City and Lagos respectively.”
Akiotu added that in picking the Theme Song, the rich culture of Edo state, particularly Benin, was put into consideration.
The chairman said the NTA, DAAR Communications, Edo Broadcasting Service(EBS) and Super Sports are the official broadcast stations of the National Sports Festival.
“We have carefully selected the NTA, DAAR Communications, EBS and Super Sports as official broadcasters for Nigeria’s biggest and best Games. We are also going to involve all the major newspapers, magazines and bloggers to make it the best ever in the history of the NSF, ” he stressed.
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