Serena hurdles Halep test to reach Australian Open semifinals

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021. Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates winning her quarterfinal match against Romania’s Simona Halep. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
MELBOURNE—Serena Williams came through a huge test of her Australian Open title credentials to reach the last four at Melbourne Park for the ninth time with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Simona Halep in a high quality quarterfinal on Tuesday.
The 39-year-old went toe-to-toe with the Romanian second seed over 80 minutes on Rod Laver Arena before she was finally able to move to within two victories of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.
Williams hit some ferocious forehands and moved around the court with a freedom that she has not enjoyed for a good while to set up a semifinal meeting against in-form Japanese third seed Naomi Osaka.

“It’s so good to see someone [@naomiosaka] that is so inspiring on both things.” 💙
Even 7️⃣x #AusOpen champion @serenawilliams draws inspiration from her #AO2021 semifinal opponent 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yzASWfp1Gn
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 16, 2021

“I think this was the best match I have played at this tournament for sure,” Williams said after celebrating her win to the accompaniment of canned applause as Melbourne’s coronavirus lockdown kept the fans away for a fourth day.
“I knew it had to be going up against the number two in the world. I had to be better and I was, so I’m excited.”
If any match at this year’s tournament deserved a crowd, it was this. There were nine breaks of serve as two great competitors punched and counter-punched over lengthy rallies.
Williams was always in front in the first set but needed to dig deep to wrestle back the momentum after Halep took a 3-1 lead in the second.
Eventually, however, Williams broke for 4-3 after a 13-shot rally where she showed incredible athleticism to get to a couple of shots that would have defied most players.
Seven minutes later, she wrapped up the contest with a huge forehand, her 24th winner.
Williams has not landed one of the game’s major prizes since her seventh title at Melbourne Park in 2017, with Halep’s victory in the 2019 Wimbledon final denying her one opportunity to match Margaret Court’s record.
After gaining a measure of revenge for that defeat, Williams has the chance to avenge another when she plays Osaka, who won the 2018 U.S. Open final between the two.
“She’s a great player on the court and an inspirational person off it,” said Williams.
“I feel this is a great opportunity for me just to do my best in the first Grand Slam of the year.”

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Serena does not need Grand Slam record for validation – coach

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her fourth round match against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka REUTERS/Loren Elliott
MELBOURNE – Serena Williams wants to win more Grand Slams but hardly needs the all-time record for validation, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou said on Monday.
Williams is bidding for a 24th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, which would match Margaret Court’s record.
The American great has fallen short in four Grand Slam finals since winning the 2017 Australian Open but has another chance after reaching the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.
“Does she need that validation? I don’t think she needs that validation,” Mouratoglou told reporters.
“But clearly she came back to tennis to win some other Grand Slams, so that’s for sure the goal.
“Now, she’s not as obsessed with the 24 than most of the people in the tennis world, but definitely she wants to win Grand Slams. That’s the only reason why she came back to tennis.”
Mouratoglou said it did not really make sense to compare Williams’s record with Court, given 13 of the Australian’s Grand Slam titles came before the professional era, which started in 1968.
“We all know it’s two different sports,” he said.
“It’s an amateur sport and a professional sport.
“But it’s probably fun to talk about beating records, which is something that I understand.”
Mouratoglou said Williams at 39 was moving better than she had in three years on the court, and the team had placed a big emphasis on bringing back the “footwork” she had in the past.
“If you can’t move well, there is no Plan B. The only plan is attack. I think it cost her a few important matches,” said the Frenchman.
“We’ve been struggling those last years because she had a lot of injuries, so she was not able to practice the way we wanted,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a vicious circle because when you can’t practice well, you don’t get fit.
“Now we’re more in a virtuous circle than a vicious one.”
Tenth seed Williams plays second seed Simona Halep for a place in the semifinals. Halep beat her for the 2019 Wimbledon title the last time they met.
The Wimbledon triumph was only Halep’s second victory in 11 matches played against Williams but Mouratoglou saw it as something of a watershed for the Romanian.
“I think Simona played the perfect match in Wimbledon. It’s going to be a different process for her because she knows she can play like that against Serena, which she never did before,” said Mouratoglou.
“She will come probably with more confidence, and we’re prepared for that.”

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Halep gains revenge on Swiatek, plays Serena in quarters

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates winning her fourth round match against Poland’s Iga Swiatek REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
Simona Halep exacted revenge on French Open champion Iga Swiatek with a comeback three-set victory Sunday, setting up a blockbuster quarterfinal with Serena Williams at the Australian Open.
The world number two was thrashed by the 19-year-old at Roland Garros, winning just three games, but turned the tide 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes at a crowd-less Rod Laver Arena.
“I knew she would hit strong, but after the first set I tried to make her run and she started to miss,” said Halep, who hit 19 winners.
Halep now faces 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who she beat in the 2019 Wimbledon final.
“It’s always tough to think about playing her,” she said. “I will try to enjoy myself and I can only beat Serena if I play my best.”
Halep was aggressive early, but 15th seed Swiatek showcased remarkable defensive skills, thwarting the attacks with sliding retrievals along the baseline.
The Romanian rued squandering two break points in the seventh game and she then played a loose service game to hand the initiative to an increasingly confident Swiatek, who claimed her 21st consecutive set in a Grand Slam.
Halep, whose seven-year streak in the top 10 is the longest active run among women, lifted her intensity and relentlessly hit the lines to force a ragged Swiatek into errors.
The 2018 French Open Champion put the foot down to run through the second set, the first Swiatek had lost since falling to Victoria Azarenka in the third round of last year’s US Open.
Swiatek’s confidence was dented and she lost her serve in the third set’s opening game with a double fault, but fought back to level up with a break in the fourth game.
She was unable to consolidate, dropping serve to love, as Halep calmly clinched a quarterfinal berth.
Halep, 29, is seeking a maiden triumph at Melbourne Park having fallen short to Caroline Wozniacki in the 2018 decider.
She was left stunned last year after a straight-sets loss to Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals.

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เซเรน่ารอดชีวิตจากการโจมตีของ Sabalenka ใน Australian Open Thriller

เทนนิส – ออสเตรเลียโอเพ่น – เมลเบิร์นพาร์คเมลเบิร์นออสเตรเลีย 14 ก.พ. 2564 เซเรน่าวิลเลียมส์จากสหรัฐอเมริกาโชว์ผลงานระหว่างการแข่งขันรอบสี่ของเบลารุสอารีน่าซาบาเลนกา REUTERS / ลอเรนเอลเลียตเซเรน่าวิลเลียมส์แพ้อารีน่าซาบาเลนกาเมื่อวันอาทิตย์ที่ผ่านมา ระทึกขวัญผู้เล่นสามคนที่จะเข้าสู่รอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศของออสเตรเลียนโอเพ่นพวกเขายังคงแสวงหาตำแหน่งแชมป์แกรนด์สแลมครั้งที่ 24 ชาวอเมริกันเอาชนะเขื่อนกั้นน้ำจากเมล็ดพันธุ์ที่ 7 เพื่อเอาชนะ 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 ในสองชั่วโมงและเก้านาทีและเริ่มการเผชิญหน้าแบบปากเปล่ากับ Simon Halep หรือ Iga Swiatek แชมป์โลก “ฉันดีใจที่ประสบความสำเร็จฉันรู้ว่ามันจะยาก” วิลเลียมส์ซึ่งชนะ 30 ครั้งกล่าว “เซตที่สองแพ้ แต่เกมก็สูสี ฉันแค่พยายามอยู่ที่นั่น วิลเลียมส์วัย 39 ปียังไม่ได้ลงเล่นให้กับชาวเบลารุสซึ่งได้รับถ้วยรางวัลมากกว่าใคร ๆ ตั้งแต่ปีที่แล้วที่ French Open แต่ยังไม่ผ่านเข้ารอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศ Sabalenka ที่พูดถึงการเลียนแบบเกมใหญ่ของเขากับวิลเลียมส์แสดงให้เห็นถึงความแข็งแกร่งของเขาผ่านการเสิร์ฟที่อ่อนแอและการตีลูกในการแข่งขันที่มีค่าออกเทนสูง วิลเลียมส์ถูกสร้างขึ้นโดยวิลเลียมส์ซึ่งเฝ้าดูวีนัสน้องสาวของเขาในอันดับ แต่จู่ ๆ ก็ถูกโจมตีในรอบแรกและขัดขวางการเสิร์ฟของซาบาเลนกาในเกมที่ 10 เพื่อชนะเซตแรก Sabalenka ซึ่งเกิดสี่เดือนหลังจากที่วิลเลียมส์สร้างตำแหน่งแกรนด์สแลมในปี 1998 รู้สึกไม่ประทับใจและยืนยันว่าเธอโจมตีบริการที่เป็นความลับบ่อยครั้งของวิลเลียมส์ Sabalenka สุดป่วนทำให้กรรมการที่ Rod Laver Arena ไม่มีแฟนบอลที่ถูกบล็อกตั้งแต่วันพฤหัสบดีเป็นอย่างน้อยเนื่องจากเมลเบิร์นปิดทำการห้าวัน นักเตะวัย 22 ปีตำหนิตัวเองก่อนที่จะเขียนคำพูดปลอบใจสำหรับการเสิร์ฟลูกแรกของวิลเลียมส์ซึ่งมาเพียง 36 เปอร์เซ็นต์ของเวลาในเซตที่สอง วิลเลียมส์เด้งกลับและทิ้ง 4-1 ในเซตที่สามขณะที่ซาบาเลนก้าผิดหวังแร็กเกตของเขาขณะที่เกมเริ่มตกลง Sabalenka ชนะสามเกมติดต่อกันเพื่อกลับมาอย่างปลอดภัย แต่ประสบการณ์ของวิลเลียมส์ทำให้เขาไม่แพ้ใครตั้งแต่ออกจากการกักกัน 14 วันในออสเตรเลีย แชมป์ออสเตรเลียนโอเพ่นเจ็ดสมัยพยายามดิ้นรนและอคิลลิสก็ลื่นล้ม แต่ย้ายไปที่อื่นที่ไม่ใช่ความยุ่งเหยิงในเซตที่สอง เธอแพ้รอบชิงชนะเลิศแกรนด์สแลมสี่ครั้งในขณะที่ไล่ตามสถิติตลอดกาลของมาร์กาเร็ตคอร์ทโดยมี 24 รายการแกรนด์สแลมนับตั้งแต่ชนะครั้งสุดท้ายที่เมลเบิร์นพาร์คในปี 2560 เมื่อเธอตั้งครรภ์ อ่านต่อไปอย่าลืมข่าวสารและข้อมูลล่าสุด ลงชื่อสมัครใช้ INQUIRER PLUS เพื่อเข้าถึง The Philippine Daily Inquirer และหัวข้อข่าวอื่น ๆ มากกว่า 70 รายการแชร์แกดเจ็ต 5 รายการฟังข่าวดาวน์โหลดจนถึงเวลา 04:00 น. และแบ่งปันบทความบนโซเชียลมีเดีย โทร 896 6000 หากคุณมีความคิดข้อร้องเรียนหรือคำถามใด ๆ โปรดติดต่อเรา

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เซรีน่ายังคง ‘รัก’ กับเทนนิสโดยเรียกร้องให้เธอคว้าตำแหน่งแชมป์สแลมครั้งที่ 24

เซเรนาวิลเลียมส์จากสหรัฐอเมริกาแสดงความคิดเห็นระหว่างการแข่งขันรอบสามกับอนาสตาเซียโปตาโปวารัสเซียเมื่อวันที่ 12 กุมภาพันธ์ 2564 REUTERS / Kelly Defina Serena Williams กล่าวว่าความรักอันลึกซึ้งในการเล่นเทนนิสของเธอทำให้เธอต้องไล่ตามถ้วยแกรนด์สแลม 24 หลังจากชนะ การสูญเสียที่หลากหลายเริ่มตั้งแต่วันศุกร์เพื่อเข้าสู่รอบที่สี่ของ Australian Open 39 ปีมีข้อผิดพลาดที่ไม่ได้บังคับ 31 ข้อ แต่เอาชนะ Russian Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 ใน 97 นาทีที่ Rod Laver Arena เพื่อปะทะกับ Aryna Sabalenka เมล็ดที่ 7 ในเบลารุส “ ฉันคิดว่าถ้าฉันไม่ชอบฉันจะไม่อยู่ที่นี่ ฉันจะไม่ไปออสเตรเลียถ้าฉันไม่ชอบสิ่งที่ฉันกำลังทำอยู่” เขากล่าวเมื่อถูกถามว่าเขาให้ความสำคัญอย่างไรหลังจากหลายปีที่ผ่านมาและเขาได้เปิดตัวในออสเตรเลียนโอเพ่นในปี 1998“ ฉันคิดว่าความรักเป็นหนึ่งใน สิ่งที่ยิ่งใหญ่ที่สุดในโลกที่คุณทำได้ มันกระตุ้นให้คุณเก่งที่สุดในงานไม่ว่าจะเป็นการเล่นเทนนิสหรือทำสิ่งอื่น ๆ เมล็ด 10 เมล็ดอยู่ในรูปแบบที่มั่นคงแล้วในเมลเบิร์นเนื่องจาก Margaret Court ไล่ตามสถิติของ Grand Margar Grand 24 แต่ไม่ประสบความสำเร็จด้วยการเริ่มต้นที่ผิดกติกา แต่ Potapova วัย 19 ปีมีปัญหาในการปฏิเสธที่จะส่งชุดแรกให้เกิดข้อผิดพลาดสองครั้งซึ่งใช้ประโยชน์จากช่วงเวลาทอง จากนั้นวิลเลียมส์เพิ่มความเข้มข้นของเขาซึ่งเน้นอีกครั้งและชนะไทเบรกก่อนที่จะข้ามผ่านเซตที่สอง “มันเป็นเพียงการแจ้งเตือนของเราในตอนนั้น ชุดแรกแน่นมาก” เขากล่าว “ ฉันแน่นไปหน่อย แต่ก็ใช้ได้ผล สามารถเล่นได้อย่างอิสระมากขึ้นในเซตที่สอง วิลเลียมส์แชมป์โอเพ่นสมัยที่ 7 ของออสเตรเลียในวันอาทิตย์จะเล่น Sabalenka ที่เอาชนะ American Ann Li 6-3, 6-1 ในรอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศ เกมนี้เล่นโดยไม่มีแฟนบอลอยู่ในสนามหลังจากเมลเบิร์นได้รับคำสั่งให้ลงใต้ดินเป็นเวลา 5 วันโดยเริ่มตั้งแต่เวลาเที่ยงคืนเพื่อต่อสู้กับกลุ่มโคโรนาไวรัสใหม่โดยผู้เล่นจะเข้าสู่ฟองสบู่ “ไบโอเซฟ วิลเลียมส์กล่าวว่าเขาสนุกกับการมีผู้ชมกลับมาเหมือนเดิมในช่วงเปิดห้าวัน “มันเป็นเพียงการแจ้งเตือนของเราในตอนนั้น มันยอดเยี่ยมมากที่ได้ดึงฝูงชนกลับมาโดยเฉพาะที่นี่ นั่นเป็นสิ่งที่ดีมาก” เขากล่าว “ แต่คุณก็รู้ในตอนท้ายของวันนี้เราต้องทำให้ดีที่สุด ฉันหวังว่ามันจะเป็นไปอย่างราบรื่น ” อ่านต่อไปอย่าลืมข่าวสารและข้อมูลล่าสุด ลงชื่อสมัครใช้ INQUIRER PLUS เพื่อเข้าถึง The Philippine Daily Inquirer และหัวข้อข่าวอื่น ๆ มากกว่า 70 รายการแชร์แกดเจ็ต 5 รายการฟังข่าวดาวน์โหลดจนถึงเวลา 04:00 น. และแบ่งปันบทความบนโซเชียลมีเดีย โทร 896 6000 หากคุณมีความคิดข้อร้องเรียนหรือคำถามใด ๆ โปรดติดต่อเรา

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Serena reaches Australian Open fourth round

Serena Williams of the U.S. is interviewed after winning her third round match against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova  on February 12, 2021. REUTERS/Kelly Defina
MELBOURNE—As news broke on Friday that Melbourne would head into a snap lockdown to contain an outbreak of COVID-19, Serena Williams was already on court at the Australian Open playing potentially her last match in front of crowds at the tournament.
It was a distraction neither Williams nor her opponent Anastasia Potapova would have wanted before their third round match at a Grand Slam that has been on high alert since it started on Monday.
Williams completed a 7-6(5) 6-2 win in the sunshine at Rod Laver Arena then gushed about her daughter Olympia learning tennis in the on-court interview, drawing cheers from fans.
“Actually, I didn’t know at all until the match was over. I think it’s good that I didn’t know,” Williams later told reporters.
“It’s rough. It’s going to be a rough few days for I think everyone. But we’ll hopefully get through it.”
The tournament will go on but Williams’s bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title will proceed without fans in the terraces for at least five days from Saturday.
Barring the home hero and world number one Ash Barty, Williams is arguably the hottest ticket in the women’s draw at Melbourne Park, where she has won seven titles.
“I feel like I’ve always had a great reaction from the Australian crowd, to be honest,” said the American.
“I’ve always felt like Australia has been a place I’ve always loved to play.”
Although it was not her best tennis on Friday, Williams gave the crowd ample suspense as she slumped to a 5-3 deficit in an error-strewn first set.
She survived two set points before getting the match back on serve when Potapova double-faulted.
From there, it was all on Williams’s terms.
If there was any doubt about her motivation to compete at the age of 39, it would have been crushed when, in one thrilling rally, she grinned broadly as she scrambled behind the baseline to retrieve a lob and flicked it over her head.
The shot landed in and bounced up nicely for Potapova but the Russian’s smash thudded into the net.
“I wouldn’t be in Australia if I didn’t love what I do,” said Williams, who will face seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I think that love is one of the single greatest things in the world that you can have.
“It propels you to be your best in your job, whether it’s playing tennis or whether it’s doing something else.”

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Venus Williams is still there


Despite a debilitating ankle injury, Venus Williams put on an inspirational performance at the Australian Open.Image: Getty ImagesThe Australian Open is candy for the insomnia and drunk crowd, both of which I happen to be a member. I guess it has the same charm as New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom. Not only is it a must-see event, but you know that only the truly die-hard fans are watching along with you… or the truly lost. And those two circles can intersect pretty heavily — genius and insanity and all that. It’s a great event for tennis fans too, because it’s generally the only Grand Slam that the players come into completely healthy. They’ve had six weeks to two months off from the previous season, and have only played a tune-up event or two, if that, before the tournament. The rest of the calendar sees a host of players carrying nagging ailments from the weeks and weeks of play and training, and you don’t always get everyone at full-strength. By the time the US Open rolls around in late August it can look like a lunch break on the set of The Walking Dead.Of course, that’s not always the case, especially this year. Players have had an unusual run-up to this event, with Australia’s COVID protocols, and some had to spend a full two weeks in a hotel room. Which would be the antithesis of the highly-tuned training schedule and bodies these athletes carry for the entire tour and their entire careers. Venus Williams was no different, though she may just be carrying the nagging aches and pains that anyone who’s, y’know, 40 carries. Much less someone who is 40 and has been on tour full-time for 24 years, a good portion of which has been playing and training on concrete. She came into the Aussie Open with her left knee barking. It’s a wonder her back isn’t graham crackers, considering. Venus hasn’t been a real threat in a while, though it’s important to remember she was in two Grand Slam finals in 2017, which was only four years ago, and she did that at age 37. Only two other women have made Finals at 37, and those are Serena and Martina Navratilova, perhaps the two greatest players of all-time. That’s the company Venus keeps, though it’s forgotten a little too often. “Venus has been lost in the light of her younger sister Serena for even longer, as Serena, with 23 grand slam titles to her name, remains on the cusp of tying and breaking Margaret Court’s record for most grand slam wins. (Being the younger sibling of two, I’m tempted to say that the younger one is always the superior one, but I’ve gotten enough typewriters and noogies by saying that in my lifetime to tempt fate once again).G/O Media may get a commissionSo occasionally we have to remind ourselves that Venus is also one of the greatest players of all-time. She’s second among active players, to her sister, in Grand Slam titles, with seven. She’s 10th all-time in Final appearances, 10th all-time in Grand Slam semifinals as well. She’s fifth in Grand Slam match wins, and also collected 49 singles titles in total. Basically, every tennis player ever save a handful would drink a warehouse full of cow’s blood to have the career Venus has had to this point. “To this point” is key there, because she’s still going. And that’s been the thing about Venus for the past few years. She shows up. She’s got the most Grand Slam appearances of anyone in history, with 87. In the 24 years she’s been playing, she’s missed a total of seven Grand Slams. That’s one every three years. She gets to the post. Last night was a testament to that. Carrying that knee problem, and down 1-5 in the 1st set to Sara Errani and serving to stay in the set, Venus did this to her right ankle. It was immediately obvious that this wasn’t just some little turn or sprain. Williams fought back tears as she hobbled around and through back-to-back medical timeouts. Every commentator was positive that she would retire, that she should (and maybe she should have, she could have easily ended her career). She was down 5-1, couldn’t move, and the days of her making serious inroads in a Grand Slam are probably over. What does she have to prove? Why gut out this pain to likely lose, and even if somehow finding a way through this one, how would she get through the next match? No one would have batted an eye if she had called the match then and there. But Venus Williams gets there. She is there. That’s her strength. She’s there because there’s a match to be played, and that’s what she does. So she gutted out the next set, even looked a little spritely at times, and even fought off two match points even when there was no hope of a comeback. Sometimes the value is in just putting up a fight, playing one or two points really well. She validated Errani’s win by sticking it out, by competing to the very end. She gave Errani a victory, not a pass. That’s not to disparage other players, almost all of which have had to retire from a match at some point. Again, Venus could have easily done lasting damage last night, and we might find out later she did. There’s a risk calculation. Of course, there are more than enough players who look for the towel to throw at the slightest urging. Or some who jake their way through matches for a check, and look a lot of times like they can barely be bothered with a profession that makes one rich, allows them to see the world, and play a game for a living (rhymes with “Kyrgios”). Certainly, it will be a curious juxtaposition for the next player who does that this tournament after Venus’s performance. Venus kept on because that’s what she does. She’s not going to win tournaments anymore, likely. But she loves the game, she loves being out there, and that’s all the meaning she needs. It’s all the meaning we should need. It makes her happy, even if it’s excruciating as it was yesterday. There’s a match to be played, and that’s enough for Venus. Venus is there. The value is in playing. We’ll notice when she’s gone, and you can’t help but feel like that day is soon, but it’s never as close as you’d guess with Venus, because she’s there.  .

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Relaxed Serena cruises into Australian Open third round

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 10, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates after winning her second round match against Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic REUTERS/Loren Elliott
Serena Williams said Wednesday she was feeling relaxed and striving to find the right balance to avoid dips in concentration as the 23-time Grand Slam champion continued her ominous form at the Australian Open.
The 39-year-old maintained her unbeaten run since emerging from 14-day quarantine with a 6-3, 6-0 second-round drubbing of Nina Stojanovic in 69 minutes.
She said her near-flawless second set was fuelled by a carefree approach.
“I wasn’t thinking as much in the second, as I was in the first,” said the American, who hit 27 winners.
“I just think when I’m not thinking it’s more or less like I’m just totally relaxed.
“Even with my serve, I overthink it. But when I don’t think about it… it goes in.”
Williams, however, was conscious about not letting her focus wander.
“It’s a balance because sometimes that’s a… time to slack off and to lose focus,” she said.
“So, it’s really about finding that key balance there for me.”

Superb form from @serenawilliams.
Our 7 time champion moves into the round of 32, dismantling Stojanovic 6-3 6-0.#AusOpen | #AO2021 pic.twitter.com/hbacPSA5qJ
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 10, 2021

The 10th seed has appeared sharp and in strong form so far as she chases Margaret Court’s record Grand Slam tally of 24.
Williams started with a sizzling backhand winner and maintained a vice-like grip over the Serb, breaking in the opening game of the second set and sealing victory with her sixth ace.
The seven-time Australian Open champion has been battling shoulder and Achilles niggles but shown no ill-effects on court and appeared at ease amid the hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena, with temperatures reaching 31 Celsius (87.8 Fahrenheit).
“The conditions were fine…I live in Florida,” she said. “It was bright for me more than hot.
“But I know it can get really hot here. I thought it was good conditions for me.”
Williams reprised her multi-colored, one-legged catsuit — a flamboyant outfit inspired by late sprint queen Florence Griffith Joyner, popularly known as “Flo-Jo.”
“This is one of my favorites, definitely top three for me,” she said. “I just kept pushing the design team at Nike and then they pushed themselves and they came up with something really fabulous.”
Playing her unparalleled 100th Australian Open match, she had thrashed Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1 in the first round and faces Anastasia Potapova of Russia next.

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Significant Black firsts in sports history

The impact of Black athletes across the history of sports is an undeniable one, but also one that has not always been accomplished on equal footing. Of the many highs that have been accomplished, there have been just as many –if not more— that have also had to overcome the rules of the times they were accomplished in. This is a look back at many significant firsts, highlights, and noteworthy moments accomplished by Black athletes across the sporting spectrum, as well as the conditions that secured their significance.

 

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1884: First African-American MLB player (all-time): Moses Fleetwood Walker

Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images

Technically, William Edward White was the first Black man to play professional baseball in 1879, but he did so while passing as white. However, it was Walker who did so outright as an African-American, playing catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884. He faced the intense racial scrutiny of the time and lasted only one season, becoming the last African-American to appear in the MLB for 63 years.

 

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1889: First Black Professional Soccer Player: Arthur Wharton

EPL

Born in Jamestown of the Gold Coast (in modern-day Ghana), Wharton became the first Black professional soccer player in the English Professional League. Wharton was a goalie and occasional winger, who made 54 overall appearances across four professional seasons. In 2003, he was elected to the English Football Hall of Fame as a pioneer.

 

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1908: First Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion: Jack Johnson

Photo by Philipp Kester/ullstein bild via Getty Images

At the peak of the Jim Crow era in America, Johnson emerged as one of the nation’s biggest stars. In 1908, the Galveston, Texas, native beat Tommy Burns to claim the lineal world heavyweight title, via a stoppage in the 14 th round, to become the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion, a title he would carry for the next eight years.

 

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1908: First Black Olympic Gold Medalist: John Taylor

Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Although George Poage was the first African-American Olympian, when he captured two bronze medals in St. Louis four years prior, it was Taylor in 1908 who first reached the top of the podium. Hailing from Washington D.C. and the son of two former slaves, Taylor captured the gold running the third leg of the medley relays, covering 400 meters. In the same year, he would complete his degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

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1916: First Black Woman to Win a Major Sports Title: Lucy Diggs Stowe

Wikipedia

In 1917, while a student at Howard University, Diggs Slowe accomplished what would go on to become a milestone in both African-American and female sports as a whole. In winning the American Tennis Association’s first tournament, she became the first African-American woman to win a major sports title. Diggs Slowe is also notable in Black history for being one of the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the oldest African-American sorority in American history.

 

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1920: First Black Pro Football players: Fitz Pollard & Bobby Marshall

Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Pollard had a habit of making history throughout the early days of his career. In college, he became both the first African-American football player at Brown and the first to be named to the Walter Camp All-American team. In 1920, along with Bobby Marshall, he became one of the first two African-Americans in the NFL. In his second season, Pollard led the Akron Pros to their first championship and the following season was named their co-head coach, becoming the first African-American coach in pro sports history and was still an active player.

 

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1929: First Black Sportscaster: Sherman “Jocko” Maxwell

Wikipedia Commons

Known mainly by his nickname, ‘Jocko’, Maxwell is widely believed to be the first Black sportscaster in history. He began as a 22-year-old at WNJR in New Jersey and throughout the 1930s interviewed many of the biggest stars in sports. He also was the public address announcer for the Negro Leagues’ Newark Eagles and would go on to become a prominent scholar on Black baseball. Despite his many accomplishments, there were many times when Maxwell was not paid for his work by white broadcast outlets.

 

Bettmann / Contributor

One of the great trailblazers in American history, Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, broke the long-standing color barrier in professional baseball. While his presence in the game changed everything about American sports permanently, his impact within it produced an additional string of substantial firsts as well. He would become baseball’s inaugural winner of the Rookie of the Year award, the first black All-Star, and MVP in 1949, and later, the first Black Hall of Fame inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

 

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1947: First Black College Basketball All-American: Don Barksdale

Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire

Barksdale was no stranger to knocking down barriers in basketball. In 1947, during his only season at UCLA, he became the first African-American named to a college basketball All-American team. The following year, he became the first Black player to compete as an Olympian for the United States in basketball, going undefeated in the process. In his second NBA season with the Baltimore Bullets, Barksdale became the first African-American All-Star selection.

 

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1948: First Female Black Olympian: Alice Coachman

Bettmann / Contributor

Coachman was a dominant amateur competitor, winning 10 consecutive national championships in the high jump from 1939 to 1948. She also captured national championships in the 50- and 100-meter dash, along with the 400-meter relay while a student at the Tuskegee Institute. At the 1948 Olympic Games, she captured the gold in the high jump and became the only American woman to medal at the games. It was an overdue honor, as the cancellations of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics due to World War II caused her to miss the chance at both international competition and a much larger place in history.

 

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1950: First African-American NBA players

Bettmann / Contributor

The integration of professional basketball was simultaneously accomplished by three individuals. In the 1950 NBA Draft, Chuck Cooper, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, and Earl Lloyd were all selected and broke into the league in different capacities. Cooper was the first African-American player drafted, going as the first pick in the second round. Due to the season’s schedule, Lloyd was the first to play in a game for the Washington Capitals, while Clifton was the first to sign a contract that season.

 

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1950: First Black Female Tennis Player: Althea Gibson

Bettmann / Contributor

Gibson was one of the first women to cross the color barrier in professional sports and became the first Black woman to win a Grand Slam title in tennis when she was victorious in the 1956 French Open. Gibson was also the first Black woman to be ranked #1 in the world in 1957. She would go on to capture a title at each of the Grand Slam tournaments for a total of 11 Grand Slam championships overall. She also competed on the LPGA Tour in 1964, becoming the first woman ever to compete professionally in both tennis and golf.

 

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1956: First Cy Young Award Winner: Don Newcombe

Photo by The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images

On the heels of a 27 win season that also saw him named National League MVP, Newcombe became the inaugural winner of the award that has become synonymous with pitching excellence. He would become the first (and one of only two) pitchers to win Cy Young, MVP, and Rookie of the Year honors in his career. Seven years earlier, he became the first African-American starting pitcher in a World Series game.

 

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1958: First African-American NHL player: Willie O’Ree

Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

While Art Dorrington was the first black player to sign an NHL contract in 1950, it was O’Ree who first made it to the ice. On Jan. 18, 1958, O’Ree debuted for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first Black player in the league’s history. In his career, O’Ree would play 22 years between the NHL and minors.

 

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1960: First Black Female To Win Multiple Medals: Wilma Rudolph

Hulton Archive / Stringer

At the 1960 Olympic Games, Rudolph became the first woman to capture multiple medals. She individually captured the gold in both the 100 and 200-meter dash and added a third gold as a member of the 4 x 100 relay team. Counting the 1956 Games, Rudolph captured four medals overall and retired as the world record holder in all three of her Gold medal events.

 

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1961: First Black Heisman Trophy Winner: Ernie Davis

Bettmann / Contributor

It took 26 years for an African-American to lay claim to a Heisman Trophy, and it was Davis who did so. Following in the footsteps of the great Jim Brown, Davis was twice selected as a consensus All-American, running for a total of 2,386 yards and 20 touchdowns. Davis was selected first in the 1962 NFL Draft and fourth overall in the 1962 AFL draft but was diagnosed with leukemia before playing and died a year later.

 

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1961: First Black PGA Player: Charlie Sifford

PGA TOUR Archive / Contributor

During the segregation era of golf, Sifford won the National Negro Open four consecutive times during the 1950s. Sifford fought his way ahead into a full-fledged PGA competition, including a victory at the 1957 Long Beach Open versus PGA Tour competition. In 1961, he finally joined the PGA Tour and six years later captured the 1967 Greater Hartford Open, becoming the first African-American victor in PGA history.

 

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1963: First Black Driver to win NASCAR event: Wendell Scott

Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

After competing in local circuits in the Virginia area, Scott gained his NASCAR license in 1953, becoming the first black racer to compete within the promotion. He debuted on the Grand National Series level in 1961 and in 1964 won the Jacksonville 200, becoming the first African-American to win at NASCAR’s highest level. He led the race for 27 laps but still had to protest for his win, as the checkered flag was not initially raised to recognize his victory.

 

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1966: First Black Umpire: Emmett Ashford

Bettmann / Contributor

Inspired by the journey of Jackie Robinson to the Majors, Ashford embarked on a lengthy climb towards the Major Leagues by umpiring throughout the minors for over a decade in the 1950s. In 1966, he finally was called up to the Majors, where his charismatic style behind the plate made him a hit with fans. In 1967, he became the first Black umpire to work an All-Star Game and in 1970 he earned the same distinction in the World Series, appearing in all five games.

 

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1966: First Professional Black Head Coach: Bill Russell

Photo by Icon and Image/Getty Images

Russell didn’t limit his dominance to just his on-court exploits with the Boston Celtics (where he was the league’s first Black MVP in 1958). In 1966, he became the first African-American head coach of a major professional sports team in the modern era, when he became the team’s player/manager. Two years later, he became the first Black man to coach his team to a championship.

 

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1967: First Black World Series MVP: Bob Gibson

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

During the 1967 World Series, Gibson pitched Games 1, 4, and 7 for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Boston Red Sox. He was utterly dominant along the way, allowing only three runs over 14 hits across three complete-game victories. He ran up a total of 26 strikeouts against only five walks, threw a shutout in Game 4, and even hit a home run in Game 7. All after rallying from a mid-season broken leg from a ball hit off of him in July.

 

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1968: First Black Tennis Grand Slam Winner: Arthur Ashe

Photo by Harry Dempster/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1968, Ashe was the first African-American male to become the world’s top ranked tennis player. In the same year, he became the first African-American man to win a Grand Slam singles title at the U.S. Open. He would later gain the same distinction at the Australian Open (1975) and Wimbledon (1975). He remains the only African-American male to hold these distinctions.

 

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1968: First Black Quarterback (Modern era): Marlin Briscoe

Denver Post via Getty Images

While the Black quarterback has finally gained some level of deserved normalcy and prominence in the game, Briscoe was decades ahead of his time. In 1968, he became the first black player in modern football history to start at quarterback, when he did so for the Denver Broncos of the AFL. Briscoe threw 14 touchdowns over five starts on the season and added an additional three scores on the ground. Despite his early success, the ’68 season marked his only as a professional QB before being moved to wide receiver.

 

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1970: First NBA MVP Sweep: Willis Reed

Photo by Ross Lewis/Getty Images

In route to leading the New York Knicks to the first of two consecutive NBA Championships, Reed became the first player in league history to win three MVPs in one season. He won All-Star Game MVP with 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Eastern Conference. He then won regular season MVP after averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds per game and leading the Knicks on an 18-game win streak. Finally, he capped the year with NBA Finals MVP after twice topping 35 points and heroically rallying from a severe thigh injury to finish the series.

 

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1972: First Black General Manager: Wayne Embry

Photo by Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

After completing an 11-year, Hall of Fame career in the 1960s, Embry turned his attention towards executive leadership. He played a major role in bringing Oscar Robertson to Milwaukee to team with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which resulted in a title for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971. Subsequentially, he promoted to General Manager the next season, making him the first African-American to hold the position in pro sports. He later became the first Black team president and COO with the Toronto Raptors.

 

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1975: First Black MLB Manager: Frank Robinson

Bettmann / Contributor

Although Buck O’Neill became the first black coach in MLB history in 1962 with the Chicago Cubs, Robinson took it a step further. After a ground-breaking career where he became the first player to be named MVP in both the National and American Leagues, Robinson set his dogged determination on making additional history in the dugout. In 1975 he became the first African-American manager in MLB history when he took over the helm for the Cleveland Indians.

 

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1984: Black Stanley Cup Champion: Grant Fuhr

Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

A superstar goalie for the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s, Fuhr is responsible for a number of notable firsts for blacks in the NHL. Most notably, he became the first Black player to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup in 1984, the first of five times he would win sport’s greatest trophy. Fuhr is also the first Black goalie in NHL history, the first black recipient of both the Vezina and Jennings Trophies for excellence in the net, and first the black inductee to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.

 

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1989: First Black NFL Head Coach: Art Shell

Photo by Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images

When the Los Angeles Raiders named Shell as their head coach in 1989, he became the first African-American to hold the role in the modern NFL. He was preceded only by Fritz Pollard, who was co-head coach of the Akron Pros in 1921. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection as a player and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Shell was named AFC Coach of the Year in 1990 when he guided the Raiders to a 12-4 record and the AFC West championship.

 

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1992: First Black Manager to win World Series: Cito Gaston

Bettmann / Contributor

In 1992 Gaston guided the Toronto Blue Jays to the first of two consecutive World Series championships. In the process, he became the first African-American manager to ever win a World Series. Between two terms of managing the Blue Jays between 1989 to 1997 and again from 2008 to 2020, Gaston won 894 games. Gaston has the rare distinction of winning the World Series in every season he reached the postseason in his career.

 

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1997: First Black Golf Major Champion: Tiger Woods

Photo by Augusta National/Getty Images

Years after the contributions of Charlie Sitton and Lee Elder, it was a 21-year-old Woods who finally reached the mountaintop for Black golfers. Woods dominated the field at 1997 Masters, shooting -18 under par for the tournament and winning by a margin of 12 strokes, both setting all-time records. In the process, Woods’ first Major title was the first by a Black golfer in the 63-year history of the tournament and 81-year history of the PGA. It also helped to propel Woods to become the first –and only— Black golfer to ever be ranked #1 in the world shortly thereafter.

 

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1997: First Black UFC Champion: Maurice Smith

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Already a world champion kickboxer for multiple international federations, Smith made his way to the young Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion in 1997. At UFC 14, Smith surprisingly defeated heavyweight championship Mark Coleman via unanimous decision to claim the division title. In the process, Smith because the first striker to ever defeat a wrestler of Coleman’s stature in the UFC, further expanding the possibilities of the style clashing –yet blending— combat style MMA has developed into.

 

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2002: First Black Owner: Robert Johnson

Photo by Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Although there have been many great Black executives and owners in sports history, such as Rube Foster and Effa Manley, it was Johnson who made a massive leap forward in the big-money era of professional sports. The founder of BET and first Black billionaire, Johnson bid for and was awarded rights to the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. He was over the team for eight years as majority owner, before selling to Michael Jordan –the second majority-black owner in NBA history— in 2010.

 

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2002: First Black Winter Olympics Medalist: Vonetta Flowers

MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images

While African-American athletes have long made their marks on the summer games, the Winter Olympics have been slower to see such crossover impact. Flowers carved out her own place in history after transitioning from the world of track and field to bobsledding. Along with Jill Bracken, she captured gold in the two-woman bobsled event in 2002, becoming the first African-American to ever win gold at the Winter Games.

 

Photo by Ron C. Angle/Getty Images

In February of 2002, Williams ascended to #1 in the Women’s Tennis Association, making her the first African-American woman to do so in the Open era (since 1968). Eight years later, along with her sister Serena, she became a part of the first Black Doubles pairing to reach #1 in the world. The duo has won 14 Grand Slam Women’s doubles titles and remains undefeated in Grand Slam finals together.

 

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2003: First Black Tennis player to hold all Grand Slam titles: Serena Williams

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Following her victory in the 2003 Australian Open, Williams held all four Grand Slam titles in women’s tennis – not only in history but also simultaneously. The feat was dubbed the ‘Serena Slam’ and it also completed her rounding out the feat. She defeated her older sister Venus to claim the title, but also teamed up with her to win the women’s doubles championship at the same tournament. To date, Williams’ 23 career individual Grand Slam titles are the most in history in the Open Era.

 

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

When Hamilton signed with McLaren in 2007, he became the first black driver in the 57-year history of the Formula One. He quickly embarked on what would become a record-shattering career, capturing his first pole position and victory at the Canadian Grand Prix in the sixth F1 race, and hasn’t slowed from there. To date, Hamilton has won 7 Formula One Championships and 95 races in his career, both all-time records.

 

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2012: First Black All-Around Gymnastics Champion: Gabby Douglas

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

At the 2012 Olympics in London, Douglas became the first African-American to be crowned Individual All-Around Champion in the gymnastics competition. In addition to her individual gold, she also captured the team gold as well as a member of the popular “Fierce Five” women’s team. This made her the first American in history to conquer both competitions in a single Olympics.

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Electronic line judges make Grand Slam debut

FILE – Novak Djokovic of Serbia tends to a lineswoman Laura Clark after inadvertently striking her with a ball hit in frustration during his Men’s Singles fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain on Day Seven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP
The days of tennis players arguing whether balls are in or out could be coming to a close, after the smooth introduction of electronic line judging at the Australian Open on Monday.
Line calls have been at the centre of many a tennis conflagration, from John McEnroe’s “You cannot be serious” rant at Wimbledon in 1981 to Martina Hingis’s meltdown in the 1999 French Open final.
But the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a major change, with human judges replaced by ball-tracking cameras to reduce the number of people on site at Melbourne Park.
Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka were among the players to give their seal of approval as the electronic system made its Grand Slam debut.
The cameras are set up along each line and automatically announce their decisions in real time, with a recorded human voice calling “out”, “fault” and “foot fault”.
“It’s interesting, It’s definitely different,” said 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams after powering into the second round.
“I’m loving it here, so… I just needed to adapt, and now I’m adapted to it. I think it’s for the best.”
“I think it’s not too much that can be wrong,” she added. “I think there can be some close calls that you can check, but I think it’s good.”
The electronic calls feature pre-recorded voices of Australia’s front-line workers in the country’s pandemic response such as firefighters and other emergency response personnel.
‘No room for mistakes’
“I feel like for me, it saves me the trouble of attempting to challenge or thinking about did they call it correctly or not,” said Osaka.
“It actually gets me really focused. I don’t mind it at all.
“For me, I feel like if they do want to continue this way, I actually have no complaints about it because I think that there’s a lot of arguments that aren’t going to happen because of this technology.”
US Open champion Dominic Thiem was another supporter, saying he found it easier with no scope for human error.
“No offense at all, but there are just no mistakes happening, and that’s really good in my opinion because if the electronic call’s out, the ball is out, so there’s no room for mistakes at all,” said Thiem.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
But veteran Venus Williams was more reticent about its long-term future, suggesting she prefered having humans on court.
“I think the linespeople are also pretty accurate, too. They’re usually right on the money, so, it could be interesting to see where this goes,” said the 40-year-old.
Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic also felt it deprived line judges from gaining big-match experience, which could impact grassroots tennis.
“You need that for lower levels of tennis, at junior events, not necessarily being line judges but people that can organise the events, that can supervise the events, make sure they’re going the right way,” he said.
“I think a lot of people pick up that experience. I think if you take out that grassroots aspect of it, how do you train those people?”
Line judges have become embroiled in some notorious incidents in tennis, including when Williams unleashed on an official during her 2009 US Open semi-final defeat to Kim Clijsters.
Men’s world number one Novak Djokovic was sensationally defaulted from last year’s US Open when he struck a loose ball that accidentally hit a lineswoman in the throat.

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