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WAMC Sports Report 8/30/23: Venus Williams suffers worst U.S. Open loss, 6-1, 6-1, in first round

Venus Williams, of the United States, waves as she departs after losing to Greet Minnen, of Belgium, during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Jason DeCrow/AP
FR103966 AP
Venus Williams, of the United States, waves as she departs after losing to Greet Minnen, of Belgium, during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)


Venus Williams’ 100th career U.S. Open match produced her most lopsided loss at the Grand Slam tournament where she won the trophy in 2000 and 2001. Williams was eliminated 6-1, 6-1 by Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first round on Tuesday night. At 43, Williams is the oldest player in the field. The first 21 times Williams entered the U.S. Open, she went 21-0 in the first round. But this was her third consecutive opening-round loss at Flushing Meadows. The 26-year-old Minnen was born in August 1997, the month before Williams reached the U.S. Open final for the first time.

On the men’s side, defending champion Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the second round when his opponent, Dominik Koepfer, stopped playing while trailing 6-2, 3-2. Koepfer turned his ankle on the match's eighth point and, while he initially continued after getting treated, eventually conceded.

The U.S. Open is the noisiest of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. There are the planes. The trains. The music at changeovers. And there are the spectators, who do not necessarily adhere to the sort of decorum often associated with tennis. They yell and whistle and applaud and get especially rowdy at Arthur Ashe Stadium, a 23,000-capacity venue that is the largest at any of the sport’s four major championships. Some players enjoy all of the ruckus. Others could do without it. It can make it hard to focus. It can be confusing. And it can make it hard to hear the way the ball leaves an opponent's racket.


The New York Yankees won consecutive games for the first time in four weeks, beating the Detroit Tigers 4-2 as Gleyber Torres homered for the second night in a row. Kyle Higashioka and Anthony Volpe also homered for the Yankees, who had not won back-to-back games since Aug, 2 against Tampa Bay and the next day against Houston. Last-place New York, in danger of ending its streak of 30 consecutive winning seasons, has two chances against the Tigers to end its run of 10 winless series. Detroit (59-73) has lost four straight.

Mitch Garver homered to snap a scoreless tie in the seventh inning and the Texas Rangers, finally emerging from a slump, beat the New York Mets 2-1. Ezequiel Duran had an RBI single in the ninth and Andrew Heaney rebounded from a rough stretch with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 shutout innings for the Rangers, who began the day one game behind AL West-leading Seattle. They’ve won three of four following a season-worst eight-game slide that helped drop them out of first place for the first time since early April. Aroldis Chapman allowed a two-out homer to Mark Vientos in the ninth before earning his fourth save this season and second with Texas since being obtained from Kansas City in late June.

Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez hit back-to-back homer runs in the first inning and the Houston Astros continued their late-August surge with a 6-2 win over the Red Sox. Mauricio Dubón added a two-run double in the sixth for the Astros, who kept pace in a tight race for the AL West after entering the night one game behind division-leading Seattle. The Astros opened a 3 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the final AL wild card spot and are 1 percentage point behind Texas, which is second. Since dropping three straight last week, including a pair of losses to the Red Sox in Houston, the Astros have slugged their way to four straight wins, scoring 45 runs during the streak.

Bryce Harper, Bryson Stott, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm and Kyle Schwarber all homered to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 12-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels. The Phillies won their fifth straight game. Shohei Ohtani had three hits and knocked two runs for the Angels. Luis Rengifo homered twice and Randal Grichuk went deep for the Angels. The Angels have lost seven of nine. Michael Lorenzen struck out five and allowed three earned runs in six innings to win for the first time since his Aug. 9 no-hitter against Washington.

The Los Angeles Angels have reportedly placed six players on waivers. ESPN reports they are pitchers Lucas Giolito, Dominic Leone, Matt Moore and Reynaldo Lopez, and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk. Giolito says he read the news on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Los Angeles would get some salary relief if the players are claimed and their contracts assumed. The Angels are 63-70 and headed for their eighth straight losing season. The moves signal the team has given up after going all-in at the trade deadline, acquiring Giolito and Grichuk among several others.

A shooting that likely happened inside of Guaranteed Rate Field, followed by a scary moment for Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. in Colorado. Both in a span of four days. While Major League Baseball is on track for a marked increase in attendance this year, the pair of high-profile incidents raised questions about the safety of players and fans inside and outside of big league ballparks. A spokeswoman for the Major League Baseball Players Association said Tuesday that the union takes player safety “very seriously” and that it reviews club and stadium protocols throughout every season “to mitigate the possibility of similar future incidents.” Acuña had an encounter with two fans during Atlanta’s 14-4 win over Colorado on Monday night.


Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has made the 53-player cut. The moment marks the biggest milestone in Hamlin's bid to resume his football career after a near-death experience during a game at Cincinnati in January. Hamlin is in position to making his regular-season debut when Buffalo travels to play the New York Jets on Sept. 11. Edge rusher Von Miller will miss the first four games rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee after being placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Buffalo placed backup quarterback Matt Barkley on injured reserve.

A slew of trades highlighted roster cutdown day in the NFL. Kicker Wil Lutz is reuniting with coach Sean Payton in Denver. The Eagles got tight end Albert Okwuegbunam from the Broncos. Veteran kicker Nick Folk went from New England to Tennessee. Defensive end Boogie Bashum, defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr., cornerbacks Noah Igbinoghene and Kelvin Joseph, offensive lineman Dan Feeney and Kendrick Green also switched teams and wide receiver/returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette are among the players on the move via trade. Jonathan Taylor isn’t going anywhere, however. The Indianapolis Colts didn’t trade the disgruntled star running back but they’re keeping Taylor on the physically unable to perform list.

In a surprise move, the New England patriots cut second-year quarterback Bailey Zappe. Zappe was 2-0 as a starter last year filling in for Mac Jones but struggled in the preseason. The Patriots currently don’t have a backup because they also released veteran QB Trace McSorley and rookie Malik Cunningham, a QB at Louisville who played various positions and took snaps in camp.

Dalvin Cook stepped into the practice huddle for the New York Jets for the first time and finally settled into his new backfield. The star running back said Tuesday he finally feels as though he's a member of the Jets. It has been a whirlwind of an offseason and summer for the star running back, who had offseason shoulder surgery, was released by the Minnesota Vikings for salary cap reasons, visited the Jets during training camp, considered his options before signing with New York and then recently witnessed the birth of his first child. The 28-year-old running back signed a one-year deal with the Jets two weeks ago.


Zach Johnson has filled out his U.S. Ryder Cup team with some familiar faces. He has added Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler among his six captain's picks. Another choice of his is LIV Golf player and five-time major champion Brooks Koepka. He's the only non-PGA Tour member on the U.S. team. The others are Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa and Sam Burns. This will be Sam Burns' first Ryder Cup. Thomas is the known as the American spark in the Ryder Cup. But he finished 15th in the standings. And he didn't qualify for the PGA Tour postseason.


Through two games of this FIBA World Cup, the players who lead USA Basketball team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots all share something in common. They’re not starters. It’s not exactly an overwhelming sample size, but those statistical factoids shed a lot of light on what makes this U.S. team tick. Nobody cares what’s on the stat sheet. Everyone plays a role, starter or non-starter, and that’s exactly how USA Basketball wanted this roster to work when it was assembled. The Americans are headed to the second round and close group stage play Wednesday against Jordan.


Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup was a momentous occasion for the soccer-crazed country, but the joy on and off the field was soon sullied by the leader of the country’s soccer federation when he planted an unwanted kiss on the lips of a star player during the medal ceremony. By defiantly refusing to step down as fury over the incident mounted, Luis Rubiales only exacerbated the controversy, prompting the world champions to say they will not play again until he’s gone and prosecutors to launch an investigation. The incident is fueling nationwide soul-searching about sexism in sports, and in society at large.


With six days left in the summer meet, horse racing’s new federal oversight authority is implementing two new safety interventions at Saratoga Race Course. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority announced the measures Tuesday on the heels of a nationally-televised stakes race breakdown and another post-race horse death on Saturday, the biggest day of the meet at the New York Racing Association track. There have been 14 horse deaths at Saratoga since May. HISA says going forward, a required pre-race screening by a veterinarian, generally carried out by local vets, will now be performed by a HISA vet. HISA says it’s meant to add an extra layer of independent analysis to identify horses that may be at increased risk of injury. Additionally, members of HISA’s new Track Surface Advisory Group are on site reviewing the racing surfaces before racing resumes today.

Meanwhile, NYRA says the health and safety of horses and jockeys is its highest priority and that it strongly supports HISA’s work. It adds racing surfaces are already inspected before, during and after each racing day, and its review has not found any anomalies. NYRA says a veterinarian will now have to attest that each entered horse is sound and fit to race after a physical exam.

Jonathan Sheppard, the British-born horse racing Hall of Famer, has died at 82 from complications of late-stage Lyme Disease. The New York Racing Association reports Sheppard died Sunday at his home in Hollywood, Florida. Sheppard, who retired in 2021 after a 55-year career, holds the National Steeplechase Association’s all-time victories mark with 1,242. In total, both in steeplechase and on the flat, Sheppard’s career totaled 3,426 wins, including wins at Saratoga in 47 straight years, through 2015. Sheppard was inducted into the Hall in 1990. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, as well as three children. In 2021, NYRA named a Grade 1 race, a $150,000 2 3/8-mile hurdle race for older horses, for him. 11 Sheppard-trained horses won Eclipse Awards, and two of his horses are enshrined in the Hall of Fame at Saratoga, Cafe Prince and Flatterer.

© 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.