Starrburzt Sports

At 37, here’s Venus Williams, who just reached another Wimbledon final

By Chuck Culpepper July 13, 2017 at 11:30 AM

 

WIMBLEDON, England — Defying long-held sports logic about the aging process that allegedly besets all athletes, Venus Williams went barreling into a Wimbledon final at age 37 on Thursday, while subjecting a Centre Court audience of 15,000 to majority disappointment.

She beat Johanna Konta, the 26-year-old, Australian-born, naturalized Briton ranked No. 6 in the world, by 6-4, 6-2, and by demonstrating both elegant groundstrokes and superior moxie and seasoning during the little turns that turned the match. With that, Williams found another fresh crest of her protracted career, as well as her ninth Wimbledon final, her first in eight years and, remarkably, second Grand Slam final of this season.

Saturday, Williams will attempt to become the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam tournament since professional were first allowed to play them in 1968, breaking the mark set by her younger sister Serena at the Australian Open in January.

 

In the three of her first eight Wimbledon finals which Williams did not win, the conqueror was always Serena Williams, whose victory over Venus Williams at the Australian Open brought a 23rd Grand Slam title. But with Serena Williams absent during her pregnancy, this time Venus Williams, ranked No. 11, will see the player often deemed the most formidable during this particular tournament, Garbine Muguruza, ranked No. 15.

The Spanish-Venezuelan star, who eliminated No. 1 Angelique Kerber along the way, tore through Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, 6-1, 6-1, in Thursday’s opening semifinal, in 64 minutes.

[Muguruza’s ascent reaches Wimbledon final with wipeout of Rybarikova]

Konta, the first British female semifinalist since Virginia Wade in 1978, did not quite find the level that pushed her through a sequence of lengthy matches here, including a three-set quarterfinal squeak past No. 2-ranked Simona Halep. More often, she couldn’t avoid letting Williams dictate pressure. When she lost her serve at 1-2 in the second set on a forehand driven low into the net, the crowd let out another in its series of groans.

That crowd also showed ample appreciation for Williams, a mainstay here since 1997, and it seemed to comprehend that Konta would not ever break Williams’s serve, which she did not.

She almost did, at a crucial stage at 4-4 in the first set when Williams had to dig out of a 15-40 inconvenience. She did it with sparkling spray of points, including a backhand drilled in the corner behind Konta, a service winner that bottled up the Briton, and a tremendous point on which Williams slammed balls to and fro from the baseline until she rocketed a pulled forehand winner up the line.

Having weathered that, she followed with a break for the 6-4 first set, as the decided aggressor in a game she won at 15. The two had a fierce seven-shot exchange on the final point of that, until Konta’s last gasp went into the corner, where it almost hit both lines there but landed just beyond the baseline.

From there, Konta saw only uphill.

Wizards use second ‘two-way’ contract to sign Devin Robinson

By Candace Buckner July 13, 2017 at 12:42 PM 

Florida forward Devin Robinson scores over Virginia guard Devon Hall, left, and Jack Salt in March.

The Washington Wizards continue to fill out the 2017-18 roster, now adding a 17th and final player under contract. Devin Robinson has signed to a ‘two-way’ deal with the team, a league source told The Post.

Robinson and the team agreed to the two-year contract following the Wizards’ Summer League game against the Miami Heat in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

Robinson, a lanky 6-foot-8 forward out of the University of Florida, becomes the second player, along with Michael Young, signed as a ‘two-way’ player. The pair of rookies will attend the team’s training camp in Richmond then will be assigned to a nearby NBA G League team. Under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, teams can have two players who will spend most of the season in the G League in order to develop them. Since the Wizards do not operate a G League franchise, the team will likely send Robinson and Young to the Delaware 87ers, owned by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Robinson, 22, played three years in Florida and averaged career-highs in points (11.1), rebounds (6.1) and three-point percentage (.391) during his junior season.

“Devin runs like a deer and gets his jump shot off so quickly,” Florida Coach Mike White told the reporters during the Gators’ run in March Madness. “He’s a very talented guy. He can be a force at both ends of the floor.”

Robinson has roots in Chesterfield County, Va., just south of Richmond, and was named the Virginia Independent Schools Player of the Year in 2014.

Sports

NBA Podcast: The L.A. Times’ Dan Woike on the end of ‘Lob City’

By Tim Bontemps January 30 Email the author


On the latest episode of “Posting Up,” Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times discusses the blockbuster Blake Griffin trade. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Eight years ago, Blake Griffin burst onto scene the with the Los Angeles Clippers, instantly turning a franchise that was a perennial NBA laughingstock into a relevant one. A year later, the arrival of Chris Paul in a trade with the New Orleans Hornets, along with the rise of center DeAndre Jordan, formed the core of a team that became known as “Lob City,” and was transformed into championship contenders.

That all officially came to an end Monday when Griffin was sent packing in a stunning, blockbuster trade with the Detroit Pistons, who sent forward Tobias Harris, guard Avery Bradley and center Boban Marjanovic, as well as a protected 2018 first-round pick and a future second-rounder to the Clippers in return.

[What the Blake Griffin trade means for the Clippers, Pistons and the rest of the NBA]

While the trade itself is about the present for the Pistons and the future for the Clippers, the most fascinating aspect is the closing of the door on what was easily the most successful era in Clipper history, yet will still always feel ultimately disappointing.

That, and much more, was discussed by host Tim Bontemps and Dan Woike from The Los Angeles Times on the latest episode of “Posting Up,” The Washington Post’s NBA podcast.

Topics discussed include:

— How, ultimately, should this era in Clippers history be judged?

— The failed moves that always left the Clippers a player or two short when it counted, and why this move was different from their previous deals.

— How Griffin’s rookie season in 2010-11 transformed the Clippers into a team worth paying attention to.

— Doc Rivers’ status moving forward.

— How Griffin will react, and how he fits in Detroit.

— Whether the Clippers can be a playoff team even after the trade.

Subscribe to the podcast at any of the places you can get your hands on it, including Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle PlayTuneInRadioPublic and iHeartRadio. And when you do, please give it a five-star rating and review. It is helpful and appreciated.

While you’re at it, give some of The Washington Post’s other excellent podcasts a shot, including ConstitutionalCan He Do That? and The Fantasy Football Beat.