Williams cruises, sets up final vs. Halep
WIMBLEDON, England — The opponents of Serena Williams and Simona Halep didn’t offer much resistance Thursday in their women’s semifinal matches. The foes won a combined seven games. That’s run-the-table tennis for Williams and Halep — in a Grand Slam semifinal, no less — and proof that it’s the two best players at the moment who will meet in Saturday’s final. Barbora Strycova and Elina Svitolina didn’t stand a chance.
Halep routed Svitolina 6-1, 6-3, followed by Williams brushing aside Strycova 6-1, 6-2 in a breezy 59 minutes.
Williams, who lost in last year’s final, has won 23 major championships and needs one more to match the all-time record set by Margaret Court.
“It’s really not about 24 or 23 or 25,” Williams said. “It’s really just about going out there and giving my best effort no matter what. No matter what I do, I will always have a great career.”
Williams is the oldest woman in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam final, at 37 years and 290 days. Martina Navratilova set the record by reaching a slam final at 37 years, 258 days.
“Technology has really changed; that’s the only reason I’m able to compete,” Williams said. “I feel like if we had this technology 20 years ago, maybe Michael Jordan would still be playing basketball. I just feel like we know so much more about our bodies.
“Things I do different now than when I first was on tour, it’s lengthening my career. It’s not just me, it’s Roger (Federer), Tom Brady, Peyton (Manning) played forever. There are so many athletes now that are able to do better and play longer, even play some of their best way after their 30s.
“Those athletes, Tiger (Woods) obviously, what he did at the Masters, was on top of my mind. Those athletes are incredibly inspiring. That’s one thing that keeps me
Williams has won her last 11 Wimbledon semifinal matches. She hasn’t lost one since falling to her sister, Venus, in 2000.
That said, it has been far from a smooth ride for Williams of late. Illness and injury curtailed her play this year, and she was limited to 12 matches heading into Wimbledon. Last month, she stayed in France for medical treatment after a third-round loss at the French Open.
“I’m just now starting to use my legs again,” said Williams, who leads the tournament with 45 aces. “Well, two weeks ago in the tournament. Then I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I forgot about my serve.’ It was kind of back. It felt good.
“It’s really just about rediscovering my technique on my serve, how I use my body, how I use every part of it, just really know that I can still improve.”
With surprising ease and brevity, Angelique Kerber dispatched Williams in last year’s final, 6-3, 6-3.
“I just remember I was tired and Angie played unbelievable,” said Williams, who was recovering from a difficult childbirth at the time. “I actually was sad but I was also proud of myself. There was nothing I could do in that match. I did everything I could. Physically I just wasn’t there.”
Halep, the 2018 French Open champion who ended last year as the world No. 1 for the second time in her career, is 1-9 against Williams lifetime and has lost their last five meetings.
Still, Halep is confident this year will be different.
“I have played many matches against her. Many of them were very close,” she said.
“I have learned that I have a chance. Now I believe that I have my chance to win against her. Of course, I respect what she has done and what she’s doing. But now I feel stronger mentally facing her. We will see what is going to happen. It’s just a big challenge for me.”
It has been a long road for former Fresno State wide receiver Brian Burt. He doesn’t mind it if it means getting an opportunity in the NFL.
Burt, listed at 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds, did well in an Oakland Raiders tryout and earned a spot at Raiders training camp in Napa on July 26, trying to earn his way on the 53-man roster.
“I’m going to do what I’ve always done and just fight,” he said. “Training camp is just going to be fun. Play football and compete and do all the stuff with pads and separate the men from the boys. I cannot wait to keep learning from AB (Antonio Brown), Tyrell (Williams) and all of the good receivers and just build together.”
The journey started for Burt when he competed football and track and field at Eastmont High in East Wenatchee, Wash.
He was an all-around track standout, competing in the 100, 200, high jump, long jump, triple jump and 400 and 1,600 relay teams. His speed helped him get a track scholarship to Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., where in 2015 he ran the 100 and 400 relay.
But Lane didn’t have football and Burt transferred to Mesa College in Arizona, where began to concentrate on the game. He transferred from there to Ventura College, coached by former Fresno State assistant/Fresno City College coach Steve Mooshagian.
Mooshagian switched Burt to running back. As a sophomore,
The Lodi Motorcycle Club will hold its inaugural Russ Brown Golden State Flat Track TT Championship at the Lodi Cycle Bowl on Saturday, with top riders vying for a $5,000 purse.
The event will pair riders running heats and semifinals until 12 riders remain for the championship.
This race will run along with the AMA District 36 racing program from the 50cc mini bikes up to the Open Pro class.
Gates open at 1 p.m., practice begins at 2:30 and racing will start at 4 p.m. Burt appeared in 11 games and rushed 87 times for 563 yards and four touchdowns and added 14 receptions for 212 yards and a pair of receiving touchdowns.
Burt transferred to Fresno State and played sparingly, appearing in one game in 2016 and six last season, with just 24 total yards.
No matter, Mooshagian said. “He has a humble chip on his shoulder,” the coach said. “We gave him an opportunity to play tailback and we would go to the empty sets and he would play receiver. He started evolving as a receiver. There were still some learning curves for him and the fact he was learning a new offense was a big thing.”
Burt solidified his potential in front of NFL scouts at Fresno State Pro Day.
He ran the 40-yard sprint in 4.31 seconds. Burt said he didn’t want to give up on football.
“I could’ve easily given up at Fresno State,” he said. “I knew what I wanted to do and this is what God wanted me to do. You get to play football on the biggest stage. I’m just a fighter. I love football.”
He’ll get an opportunity at training camp when “Hard Knocks” is there to film the Raiders for HBO.
On July 23, rookies report to the team’s training camp facility at the Napa Valley Marriott. Burt said he’s ready.
“I’m a fighter and I’m a grinder,” he said. “I’ve been like that my whole life. I made it this far. I’m blessed and humble and I’m going to keep working and I promise you I’ll be a problem in the NFL”
Serena Williams celebrates victory in her Ladies’ Singles semi-final match against Barbora Strycova on Thursday in London, England.