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US Open: Serena Williams party continues after first-round win against Danka Kovinic

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New York celebrated the career of Serena Williams in raucous fashion on Monday night but the party is not over thanks to her first-round victory against Danka Kovinic.

Williams announced earlier this month that the US Open would very likely be her last tournament, bringing an end to a 27-year career that has seen her transcend tennis.

But the 40-year-old is first and foremost a tremendous competitor and she ensured at least one more night under the lights with a 6-3 6-3 triumph, with Estonian second seed Anett Kontaveit now waiting in the wings after she breezed past Jaqueline Cristian 6-3 6-0.

Williams will also play doubles with sister Venus and, an enigma to the end, refused to completely shut the door on further appearances.

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“I’ve been pretty vague about it, right,” she said. “I’m going to stay vague because you never know.”

A record crowd had come to honour Williams and the noise grew louder and louder as a montage voiced by Queen Latifah played of Williams’ six singles titles at Flushing Meadows.

Then out came the woman herself, dressed, as only she could be, in a self-designed gown and shoes featuring diamonds, crystals and gold.

“I think when I walked out, the reception was really overwhelming,” she said later.

Serena Williams, of the United States, reacts during the first round of the US Open tennis championships against Danka Kovinic, of Montenegro, Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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Serena Williams enjoyed an emotional first-round victory at the US Open on Monday night
“It was loud and I could feel it in my chest. It was a really good feeling. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget. That meant a lot to me.”

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Williams had won just one singles match since the French Open last spring, but Kovinic has not been in good form either, losing her previous five matches.

Nerves were very evident from both, particularly in the form of early double faults, but, with a wall of noise greeting every Williams winner, she began to give the crowd what they wanted.

She was certainly moving better than she had in defeat by Emma Raducanu in Cincinnati earlier this month, and her serve and groundstrokes increased in penetration as the match wore on.

The second set, while not vintage Williams, was an indication that this valedictory lap may yet have some way to go as she set up a clash with Kontaveit on Wednesday.

In Cincinnati, Williams had walked straight off court, eschewing the celebration planned for her, but here she was able to embrace the moment as a post-match ceremony saw her venerated by Billie Jean King and Oprah Winfrey.

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“I do feel different,” she said.

“I think I was really emotional in Toronto and Cincinnati. It was very difficult. I’m not saying it’s not difficult now. It’s extremely difficult still because I absolutely love being out there.

“The more tournaments I play, I feel like the more I can belong out there. That’s a tough feeling to have, and to leave knowing, the more you do it, the more you can shine.

“But it’s time for me to evolve to the next thing. I think it’s important because there’s so many other things that I want to do.”

The 40-year-old has kept a low profile since announcing her decision in an essay in Vogue earlier this month while Williams’ fellow players, particularly those she directly inspired to follow in her footsteps, have been queuing up to
venerate her legacy.

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“I’ll have plenty of time soon to do all that,” she added.

“I just am so grateful that they see that. I can see it, too, but I don’t overthink about it. I’m still here for the time being, just enjoying it.

“I feel grateful that I can have that impact. I never thought I would have that impact, ever. I was just a girl trying to play tennis in a time where I could develop this impact and be a voice.”

Elsewhere, last year’s runner-up Leylah Fernandez, who enjoyed an extraordinary run in New York, reached round two with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Oceane Dodin.

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2022 World Cup: Unwanted history for hosts Qatar against Ecuador

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Qatar on Sunday, became the first host country to be defeated in their opening game in the 92-year history of the World Cup.

Ecuador beat the Middle East country 2-0 courtesy of two first-half goals from captain Enner Valencia. Ecuador’s captain also saw a goal ruled out for offside. The result means Qatar become the first host nation ever to lose their opening game at a World Cup.

It’s obviously not the start Qatar will have wanted to make to a competition that had been plagued by controversy before a ball had even been kicked.

Supporters also made their feelings clear about the match at half-time as they abandoned the game in large numbers with the hosts already 2-0 down. Initial estimates suggest around 20,000 supporters left the game at the break.

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There were just 11 shots in this game (five for Qatar, six for Ecuador) – no World Cup match on record (since 1966) has seen fewer attempts.

The hosts return to action on Friday against Senegal.

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Victor Osimhen Bags Huge International Award And Recognition

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Nigeria and Napoli forward Victor Osimhen has received a huge international award and recognition for his relentless contribution at the international and club level.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria and Napoli forward Victor Osimhen received a huge international award from the Globe Soccer Awards. The talented player was recognized for his immense contribution to both club and country.

He was crowned the Emerging Player Of The Year 2022, which was deserved on every level as the player has continued to show his importance at the club level for Napoli by contributing towards the impressive run of the club in the new season as well as the previous season.

Although the Super Eagles of Nigeria would not be going to the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, he had been one of the stand-out players for the Eagles in their qualifiers.

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Contragulations Victor.

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2022 World Cup: I am totally, absolutely focused on Portugal- Ronaldo says amid Man Utd criticism

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In the wake of his scathing interview about Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo declares that Portugal will be his “absolute focus” during the World Cup.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, in an interview with Piers Morgan for TalkTV, which will be made public in its entirety on Wednesday, criticised United manager Erik ten Hag, Ralf Rangnick, and senior officials at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo claimed that United had “betrayed” him and that the team had not advanced since Alex Ferguson left in 2013.

Man Utd react to Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan

After the interview, United reacted with a statement on Monday mentioning it and promising to respond “after the full facts have been established.”

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Prior to Portugal’s November 24 match against Ghana in Group H, the 37-year-old declared on Monday that his entire attention would be on playing for Portugal in Qatar.

“Total and absolute focus on national team work. United group, towards one objective: realise the dream of all Portuguese people!,” he posted on Instagram.

Despite missing United’s previous two games due to “illness,” he posted a photo of himself with his Portugal teammates during a training session.

Without Ronaldo, the Red Devils defeated Fulham 2-1 on Sunday, moving them up to fifth place in the Premier League, three points behind Tottenham with one game remaining.

In the Middle East, where Fernando Santos’ team will also play Uruguay and South Korea, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo hopes to lead his nation to World Cup triumph.

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