Friday, January 19, 2018
Sports

Serena works to relax, enjoy the moment

NEW YORK — Despite everything Serena Williams has won and done, her sense of self can still fluctuate based on the outcome of a match.

It doesn't always seem to matter that she owns a record-tying 22 major singles titles heading into the U.S. Open, which begins today. It's not necessarily a big deal to her that she has spent the past 31/2 years entrenched at No. 1 and at 34 is the oldest woman to top the WTA rankings. And at times she forgets that she transcends her sport and has become a cultural icon.

Williams is devastated when she is dealt a setback, such as last year's loss to No. 43 Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals, a defeat that ended her bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in more than 25 years. Williams said she measures herself constantly, "which I don't think is normal. I definitely feel like when I lose, I don't feel as good about myself."

"But then I have to, like, remind myself that: 'You are Serena Williams!' " Williams continued, laughing. "And it's those moments that I have to just, like, come off and be like, 'Serena, do you know what you've done? Who you are? What you continue to do, not only in tennis (but also) off the court? Like, you're awesome.' That really just shows the human side of me. I'm not a robot."

After equaling Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era (from 1968) by winning Wimbledon last month, Williams can earn No. 23 in New York. Only Margaret Court owns more major titles, with 24, but more than half of them came against amateur competition. Not that Williams was ready to think about topping Graf: "One thing I learned about last year is to enjoy the moment. I'm definitely going to enjoy this."

Not everything has gone smoothly for Williams since Wimbledon. Slowed by a bothersome right shoulder, she lost in the third round of singles and first round of doubles at this month's Olympics — she was the 2012 gold medalist in both — and then pulled out of a hardcourt tuneup event in Ohio.

On the men's side: Novak Djokovic is the No. 1 seed and undisputed No. 1 player, but the defending champion comes to New York after losing in Wimbledon's third round and the Olympics' first round, and pulling out of the Ohio tournament with a sore left wrist. Andy Murray won Wimbledon and successfully defended his Olympic title. "Novak … the last two years, really, has played amazing tennis," Murray said. "What I've done for, like, the last four months, he's been doing for … the whole year. So I need to try and keep that going."

Comments
Pieters leads Abu Dhabi, but DJ, Rory nearby

Pieters leads Abu Dhabi, but DJ, Rory nearby

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Thomas Pieters shot a second-round 7-under 65 Friday for a one-stroke lead at the Abu Dhabi Championship.Pieters used a chip-in birdie on his final hole to move to 12-under 132 in the European Tour event."We have a d...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Will Brady play in title game? ‘We’ll see,’ he says

Will Brady play in title game? ‘We’ll see,’ he says

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady played it coy Friday about his status for the AFC Championship Game after suffering a right (throwing) hand injury this week. The Patriots quarterback said a bit contentiously only "We’ll see" when asked whether he would...
Updated: 17 minutes ago

Record 119 early draft entries

Quarterbacks Sam Darnold of USC, Lamar Jackson of Louisville and Josh Rosen of UCLA are among the record 106 underclassmen given special entry to the NFL draft, making it four of the last five seasons in which at least 95 players have declared early....
Updated: 1 hour ago

Taking long way to Blackhawks’ net

CHICAGO — For Jeff Glass, there have been so many stops during his existence as a hockey vagabond, so many different jerseys he has worn, so many teams he has tended goal for — from Binghamton, N.Y., to Belarus and plenty of other outposts in between...
Updated: 1 hour ago

George doing it on both ends gets OKC rolling

OKLAHOMA CITY — Thunder coach Billy Donovan can’t pinpoint the best thing about Paul George. Oklahoma City’s versatile forward averages just over 20 points per game, leads the league in steals and is third in 3-point goals while shooting 43 percent f...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Captain’s Corner: What to expect from fish coming out of the cold spell

Extreme cold has brought backcountry water temperatures down. As in years past, extreme dips have shocked many fish, especially snook, which take the biggest hit and become extremely lethargic and often near death. Luckily the cold won’t be long, and...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Why I love the NHL All-Star Game

Why I love the NHL All-Star Game

I love the NHL All-Star Game.Love it.Give me a game when Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are teammates. Give me a two-on-one rush when Nikita Kucherov is trying to set up Auston Matthews. Sign me up for any game where the best hockey players on the p...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Why I hate the NHL All-Star Game

Why I hate the NHL All-Star Game

TAMPA — The NHL All-Star Game is coming to town next weekend, reaffirming our community's ability to step into the breach when needed. We don't stop until we get the Winter Olympics. So, don't be surprised if those next Rays stadium plans ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson has much to be excited about heading into his second season in the majors.But before packing for spring training, he took some time last weekend to provide help for families needing assistance in dealing with cancer.Hi...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Time for Lightning leaders to snap team out of funk

Time for Lightning leaders to snap team out of funk

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Steven Stamkos sat at his stall in a near-empty Lightning dressing room Thursday and did what captains often do:He shouldered some blame for the Lightning's listless 4-1 loss to Vegas."As a leader, I've got to be a lot better,...
Updated: 5 hours ago