Simona Halep stands between Serena Williams and her 24th Grand Slam championship. Williams has reached Saturday’s Wimbledon women’s singles final for the 11th time by mowing down Barbora Strycova, 6-1, 6-2 in Thursday’s semifinal.
The 37-year-old Williams needed just 59 minutes to move one match victory closer to her eighth championship at the All England Club. Williams was limited to just 12 matches this year before reaching Wimbledon. Her game has gotten better with each round of the tournament, and she converted four of her five break points to make quick work of the unseeded Czech.
Halep is in the Wimbledon final for the first time following a 6-1, 6-3 rout of Elina Svitolina on Centre Court. Halep broke Svitolina three times in the first set, and then again to take a 4-3 lead in the second. She won the match with another break in the final game. Williams has won nine of her 10 meetings with Halep, including a victory at the Australian Open this year.
The men’s semifinals are Friday as second seed Roger Federer takes on No. 3 Rafael Nadal after top-ranked Novak Djokovic faces No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook are teammates again. A person with knowledge of the situation says the Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul in a shakeup of top point guards. The person adds that the Thunder also are getting first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, plus the right to swap first-rounders in two other seasons. Westbrook and Harden were Thunder teammates, part of a team along with Kevin Durant that went to the 2012 NBA Finals and lost to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
The Mavericks have re-signed restricted free agent Dorian Finney-Smith to a three-year, $12 million contract. Finney-Smith has been on the back end of coach Rick Carlisle's rotation while averaging 5.9 points and 3.7 rebounds in 183 career games, with 74 starts. He started 26 of his 81 games last season, establishing career-high averages of 7.5 points and 4.8 boards.
The Texas Rangers have opened the unofficial second half of the major league season by inching a game closer to the AL West lead. Lance Lynn combined with two relievers on a seven-hitter as the Rangers blanked the first-place Astros, 5-0. Lynn tied a season high with 11 strikeouts while scattering six hits over seven innings. He improved to 12-4, moving him past Lucas Giolito of the White Sox for the most wins in the majors. Rougned Odor capped the Rangers’ four-run first with a two-run double. Joey Gallo hit an RBI double against Astros starter Framber Valdez, who was chased during the opening inning. The win gets the Rangers eight games behind the Astros, with the Athletics just seven games back.
In MLB news, former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is recovering from a third surgery after experiencing complications resulting from his gunshot wound. Ortiz's wife, Tiffany, says in a statement Thursday that he is "recovering well and in good spirits." He had the surgery earlier this week at Massachusetts General Hospital. Ortiz was shot in the back at a bar in the Dominican Republic last month.
Baseball's All-Star Game had a record low television rating of 5.0 with an 11 share on Fox, according to Nielsen Media Research. That is down from the previous record low rating of 5.2 and 8.69 million viewers for the AL's 8-6, 10-inning victory last year. The game was seen by an average of 5.93 million households and 8.14 million viewers.
Jake Marisnick’s home plate collision with Jonathan Lucroy last weekend has earned the Houston Astros outfielder a two-game suspension. Lucroy was carted off the field last Sunday at the end of the eighth inning of the Astros’ 11-10, 10-inning win over the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels catcher sustained a concussion and broken nose. Marisnick was called out for colliding with Lucroy and the call was upheld after a crew chief review. Marisnick said afterward that it was a "bad play" and that he hoped Lucroy was OK. Marisnick also appealed the suspension and can continue to play until a decision on his hearing his reached.
The Cardinals have placed catcher Yadier Molina on the injured list with a strained right thumb. The Cardinals also activated infielder Matt Carpenter, who has been sidelined since June 29 with a lower back strain. St. Louis also brought up left-hander Chasen Shreve from Triple-A Memphis, optioned left-hander Tyler Webb and outfielder Rangel Ravelo to Memphis, and transferred pitcher Jordan Hicks to the 60-day IL update.
The Royals are bringing hometown hero Bubba Starling to the majors after eight years in the minors. The 26-year-old outfielder will join the Royals for the opener of their series against Detroit Friday night. Starling, who starred at nearby Gardner-Edgerton High School, was chosen fifth overall in the 2011 draft. He signed for a $7.5 million bonus — then the second-largest in draft history and the most guaranteed money to a prep player.
Former New York Jets defensive coordinator and head coach Walt Michaels has died at age 89, according to the team. The former Browns linebacker ran the Jets’ defense when they won Super Bowl III under coach Weeb Eubank in January 1969, the team’s lone championship. He later led the 1982 Jets to the AFC title game and was 39-47-1 as head coach from 1977-82. Michaels was the second coach in team history to lead the team to consecutive playoff appearances. He later coached the New Jersey Generals of the USFL for two years in 1984-85. The New York Times said he died at a nursing home in Pennsylvania, but the team did not immediate provide a cause or location.
Roberto Diaz fired a 9-under 62 to take the first-round lead in the PGA’s John Deere Classic. The 32-year-old Mexican player birdied four of the first holes, eagled the par-5 10th and birdied three of the last five in the bogey-free round at TPC Deere Run near Chicago. He took the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th. Adam Long and Russell Henley are two behind Diaz, who is winless on the PGA Tour.
Matt Kuchar owns a share of the lead through one round of the Scottish Open. Kuchar closed with a bogey that leaves him in a four-way tie with Romain Wattel, Nino Bertasio and Edoardo Molinari. Kuchae eagled two of his first nine holes and reeled off four birdies in a five-hole stretch to get to minus-9 before his late bogey.
Steve Stricker was the leader when the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship when the first round was suspended for the day due to lightning. Stricker had a hole-in-one on the 184-yard, par-3 seventh and was 5 under for the day when he was ordered off the course. Paul Goydos was second at 2 under after five holes.
Canadian Alena Sharp and Youngin Chun of South Korea share the LPGA’s Marathon Classic lead at 7-under 64, a stroke ahead of Stacy Lewis and three others. The 38-year-old Sharp carded eight birdies and a bogey, while the 19-year-old Chun had a bogey-free round. Both are seeking their first LPGA title. Azahara Munoz, Caroline Masson and Jenny Haglund matched Stacy Lewis at 65.
The Montreal Canadiens have re-signed Finnish forwards Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen to two-year contracts. Armia had a career-high 13 goals and 23 points last season, his first with the Canadiens. Lehkonen appeared in all 82 games for the Canadiens last season, setting career highs with 20 assists and 31 points. Armia’s deal is worth $5.2 million, $400,000 more than Lehkonen’s package.
The Stars have re-signed center Jason Dickinson to a $3 million, two-year contract, bringing back an emerging leader after he established career highs in scoring and playing time. The 24-year-old Dickinson had career highs with six goals, 16 assists and 22 points while averaging the most minutes in his four seasons with 13. A first-round pick in 2013, Dickinson has nine goals and 27 points in 105 career games.
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