The Sports Report: Serena Williams makes her long-awaited return to tennis

Serena Williams returns the ball as Ons Jabeur of Tunisia looks on.
(Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Helene Elliott: Serena Williams’ game was rusty, but the instincts that have made her an enduring champion carried her to a win in her return to the sport she had dominated for so long.

Williams, 40, ended a nearly yearlong absence from tennis Tuesday by teaming with Ons Jabeur of Tunisia to defeat Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain and Marie Bouzkova of Czechia 2-6, 6-3, 13-11 at the Rothesay International tournament at Eastbourne, England.

Their pairing was a surprise and their lack of familiarity was apparent early against the experienced duo of Sorribes Tormo and Bouzkova, but Williams surged as the match progressed.

“I caught some fire behind me,” Williams said in a post-match interview on the Tennis Channel. “They played really well in that first set. They were jamming.”


The victory gave her much-needed match experience before she returns to singles play next week as a wild-card entrant at Wimbledon. Williams has won seven of her 23 Grand Slam event singles titles at Wimbledon, earning her most recent triumph there in 2016. “Oh, my God, it was so fun to play with Ons,” Williams said.

Before Tuesday, Williams hadn’t competed since last June 29, when she slipped on the grass during her Wimbledon first-round singles match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich and retired because of an ankle injury. She remains second to Court with 23 Slam singles titles.

Williams didn’t need to play again to cement her legacy as one of the sport’s greatest competitors and a compelling source of inspiration, especially to women of color who might not have previously seen an elite athlete who looks like them. She came back because of the competitiveness that fueled her rise from the courts of Compton to the world stage, a determination that will be tested by opponents who are match-fit and sometimes two decades younger.

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From Jack Harris: After riding a wave over the first two months of the season, the Dodgers embarked on a nine-game road trip this week stuck in a backward current, seemingly swimming upstream amid a three-week slump.

They were floundering beneath a rash of injuries to their lineup and pitching staff.

They were being weighed down by untimely hitting and inconsistent pitching, especially from the bullpen.

They had seen their early cushion in the National League West washed away, after the San Diego Padres pulled even for the division lead Monday.

And while they remained safely in the playoff picture, their recent 7-11 skid was starting to feel like more than a blip.

“We’ve shown we can beat anyone, and we can lose to some other teams,” manager Dave Roberts said. “So we’ve got to play good baseball.”

On Tuesday night, his team obliged, taking a collective breath of fresh air with an 8-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.


From Sarah Valenzuela: This was the offense the Angels have been looking for since the Kansas City Royals came to town, it just wasn’t enough to compete with the gassed bullpen’s struggles.

Reid Detmers did not have his best of starts on Tuesday. Neither did some of the Angels relievers. Despite slugger Shohei Ohtani (two homers, eight RBIs) and the Angels bats pushing the game into extra innings, the Halos lost to the Royals 12-11 in 11 innings.

Ohtani was in a 3-for-19 slump and without an extra-base hit or an RBI before Tuesday. In the ninth inning he squared up Royals reliever Scott Barlow’s 78.6-mph curveball and sent it into the abyss in right field.

The three-run home run – which scored Tyler Wade and Mike Trout – his second three-run dinger of the night, tied the score.

But in the 12th inning, reliever Jose Quijada gave up an RBI double and an RBI single, which allowed the Royals to pull ahead comfortably enough.

Six innings prior, Ohtani walked up to the plate to the usual cheers from the home crowd, with Taylor Ward and Trout on after being walked back to back, and a five-run Angels deficit on the scoreboard.

He worked up a full count on Royals’ starter Jonathan Heasley. Then came that sixth pitch, a 92.3-mph four-seam fastball right down the middle. Ohtani took that pitch deep over the center field wall, to a crowd of fans all too happy to take home a souvenir from the Angels slugger.


Still the Angels’ finest hour: A look back at their 2002 World Series win

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Angels pitchers are glad that MLB is looking into slick baseballs

Complaints about slick baseballs spur MLB to make changes


From Kevin Baxter: The Sacramento Republic was supposed to be playing in MLS this summer.

That’s what the league said when it approved Sacramento as an expansion franchise in 2019 and that’s what the city council said when it approved a $27.2-million funding package for a new soccer-specific stadium that same year.

But billionaire businessman Ronald Burkle, the team’s largest financial backer, spoke loudest 16 months ago when he decided to take his checkbook and go home, citing issues with the stadium project. That left the franchise stuck in limbo between an MLS spot it could no longer afford and the USL Championship, a second-tier league the city believed it had outgrown.

For the Republic’s players, that has made this year’s U.S. Open Cup more a referendum than a tournament, a proving ground to show they belong in MLS. It was a point they made clearly on Tuesday when they stunned the Galaxy 2-1 in a tournament quarterfinal at Dignity Health Sports Park.

“It’s another opportunity for our players and or club to really show who they are and what they’re about,” said Todd Dunivant, the Republic’s president and general manager, who was a four-time MLS Cup winner with the Galaxy. “On a national stage, with only eight teams left in the tournament, that’s special for our club and special for our players.”


From Myah Taylor: The Sparks needed a win. Nneka Ogwumike made it happen.

With 10.4 seconds left in the game, Ogwumike’s two made free throws put just enough distance between Los Angeles and a Washington Mystics team that came roaring back late to nearly tie things in the fourth quarter.

Home from Texas after a 10-point loss to the Dallas Wings on Sunday, the star forward scored 21 points, willing her team to a tight 84-82 win over the Mystics on Tuesday night at Arena.


From Gary Klein: Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey had left shoulder surgery Tuesday, and the three-time All-Pro’s condition will be monitored when the team reports for training camp in late July, a team official said.

Ramsey, 27, underwent a “clean-up” procedure for damage caused by a shoulder sprain, the official said. Ramsey played last season with injuries in both shoulders, according to a report by


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From John Cherwa: In early May, Corey Martinez, who is in charge of Santa Anita’s video surveillance, was going through video of the stalls of horses entered to race on May 8, just double-checking whether the last administration of Lasix was within the time guidelines.

But what he saw was surprising. An employee of trainer Richard Baltas was seen giving Noble Reflection a product by syringe into the horse’s mouth. Regardless of the type of medication, it is illegal to administer any medication within 24 hours of racing. The stewards were informed and the horse was scratched from the 10th race.

Santa Anita then started an investigation, as did the California Horse Racing Board.

The track essentially suspended Baltas on May 12, not allowing him to enter any horses at 1st/Racing tracks, which included Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. On Tuesday, the CHRB went one step further, issuing a complaint against Baltas alleging 23 counts of violating the rule dealing with the administration of medications after a horse has been entered, 23 counts of violating the trainer’s insurer rule and one count of conduct detrimental to racing.

The trainer’s insurer rule says that the trainer, regardless of his presence around the horse, is responsible for its conditions and what substances are in its body. Those with knowledge of the investigation but not allowed to comment told the Los Angeles Times that Baltas was not personally seen administering anything to his horses.


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1918 — Molla Bjurstedt wins the women’s U.S. Lawn Tennis Assn. title for the fourth straight year, beating Eleanor Goss 6-4, 6-3.

1937 — Joe Louis knocks out Jim Braddock in the eighth round at Chicago’s Comiskey Park to win the world heavyweight title, which he would hold for 11 years.

1938 — In a rematch portrayed in both countries as good vs. evil, Joe Louis of the U.S. knocks out Germany’s Max Schmeling at 2:04 of the first round at Yankee Stadium to retain the world heavyweight title.

1949 — Ezzard Charles scores a 15-round unanimous decision over Jersey Joe Walcott at Comiskey Park in Chicago to win the vacant world heavyweight title.

1977 — John Ziegler is named the fourth president in NHL history, succeeding Clarence Campbell.

1979 — Larry Holmes stops Mike Weaver in the 12th round to retain the WBC heavyweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York.

1981 — John McEnroe throws a tantrum in his 7-6 (5), 7-5, 6-3 first-round win over Tom Gullikson on the opening day at Wimbledon. McEnroe’s return of Gullickson’s serve is ruled out by chair umpire Edward James. McEnroe shouts his famous line, “You cannot be serious.” He then calls James the “the pits of the world” and an “incompetent fool.” Tournament referee Fred Hoyles is called to the court after James hits McEnroe with a point penalty. After McEnroe’s arguments with Hoyle go unsatisfied, Gullikson holds serve and McEnroe curses Hoyle on the changeover, prompting another point penalty. He is later fined $1,500.

1994 — The Houston Rockets, led by Hakeem Olajuwon, win their first NBA title, beating New York 90-84 in Game 7 of the finals. Olajuwon gets 25 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.

1999 — In one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon’s 113-year history, top-ranked Martina Hingis loses 6-2, 6-0 in the opening round to Jelena Dokic, a 16-year-old qualifier ranked 129th.

2001 — Karrie Webb sets two scoring records in the LPGA Championship in shooting a 7-under 64 for a three-stroke lead. Webb, at 11-under 131, breaks the 36-hole scoring record by two strokes. Webb shoots a 29 on the front nine for the lowest nine-hole score in the 47-year history of the championship.

2006 — The U.S. soccer team is eliminated from World Cup play with a 2-1 loss to Ghana.

2007 — For the first time, Americans are taken with the top two picks in the NHL draft. Chicago selects Patrick Kane with the first pick. Philadelphia then selects left wing James vanRiemsdyk with the second pick.

2012 — Jerry Sandusky is convicted on 45 counts of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years. The accusations had led to the firing of Joe Paterno, Penn State’s beloved coach who died of lung cancer Jan. 22. Penn State’s Board of Trustees ousted Paterno for what was called his “failure of leadership” surrounding allegations about Sandusky.

2014 — Michelle Wie wins the U.S. Women’s Open for her first major championship. She beats top-ranked Stacy Lewis by two shots. ... Cristiano Ronaldo sets up Varela for a late goal to give Portugal a 2-2 draw with the U.S. and hope for a spot in the second round of the World Cup.

2017 — Washington point guard Markelle Fultz is the first pick of the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

John McEnroe’s epic Wimbledon meltdown. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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