Venus upsets Flipkens at Open
Venus Williams had been 14-0 in the first round of the U.S. Open, though she never had to face an opponent ranked in the top 30 at that stage. Williams was usually the seeded player, but after two years of illness and injury, the seven-time major champion was the one pulling the upset Monday at New York when she defeated Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens. Her ranking down to No. 60, Williams beat the 12th-seeded Flipkens 6-1, 6-2 for one of her biggest wins since she pulled out of this tournament two years ago because of Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease.
"For me, I stay positive because I know I can play great tennis," Williams said. "Sometimes you just have to go through more than what you want to go through. Sometimes you have to have losses."
The 33-year-old looked strong Monday, purple braids poking out of her visor that matched her floral dress. Williams fought off three break points at 2-2 in the second set in a game that went to six deuces.
Bothered by a lower back injury, Williams was playing just her third event since a first-round loss at the French Open. She hadn't defeated a top-20 opponent since last October.
"I realize that I haven't had a lot of chances to play this year or a lot of chances to play healthy this year ... ," she said. "So I'm just going to have to keep working my way into it maybe more than some of the other players. But I know I can do that."
Rafael Nadal's stay at Wimbledon ended in his opener. In his first Grand Slam match since — and first U.S. Open since 2011 — the second-seeded Spaniard rolled past American Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal, who missed last year's tournament because of a left knee injury, improved to 16-0 on hard courts this year.
"For me, the chance to be back here playing — I have a chance to compete this year — is great," Nadal said. "I am enjoying the week before practicing. Today the first match after two years in the Arthur Ashe, so is a great feeling."
Serena Williams was so dominant in the first round of the U.S. Open, her opponent really needed a hug. So midway through the second set of defending champion Williams' 6-0, 6-1 victory, Francesca Schiavone wandered behind the baseline, found a ball boy and enveloped him in a full-fledged embrace.
It was that kind of evening for Schiavone, an often-demonstrative player who is certainly no pushover: She won the 2010 French Open, and was the runner-up at that Grand Slam tournament a year later. She's been ranked as high as No. 4 but is 54th this week.
"I knew playing a former Grand Slam champion in the first round was a really, really tough draw," Williams said, "so I tried to be super serious."
Williams was pleased with her sister's result earlier in the day.
"I haven't had a lot of time to talk to her, but I was really happy she did well," Serena said. "She's really inspiring to me."
In the day's first big upset, a British man not named Andy Murray — 179th-ranked qualifier Daniel Evans — stunned 11th-seeded Kei Nishikori in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. "I was pretty calm today," Evans said. "It wasn't that much of a big deal what was happening on the court. I wasn't nervous serving it out."
Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and fifth-seeded Li Na advanced in straight sets on the women's side. Radwanska beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1, 6-2, while Li defeated Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-2.
Alisa Kleybanova of Russia won her first Grand Slam match since being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, beating 44th-ranked Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. The 24-year-old Kleybanova was ranked as high as 20th, but after missing much of the last two seasons because of her illness is now 363rd.
Stallworth, Edwards, McKnight released
Donte Stallworth was cut Monday by the Washington Redskins, thwarting the veteran receiver's comeback. Stallworth was hindered through most of training camp by a hamstring injury. He caught two passes for 33 yards in pre-season games.
"You could see with the setback with his hamstring, he just wasn't ready," Coach Mike Shanahan said.
Also cut Monday as NFL teams reduced their rosters — they must be down to 75 on Tuesday — were receiver Braylon Edwards and running back-kick returner Joe McKnight by the Jets; receiver Derek Hagan and fullback Spencer Larsen by Tampa Bay; linebacker and special teams ace Niko Koutouvides by New England; and receiver Jordan Norwood by Cleveland.
■ The New York Giants activated defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul from the physically unable to perform list. Paul had disk surgery on his back in June, and it's uncertain if he will be ready for the season opener at the Cowboys in less than two weeks.
McGrady retires, but could play overseas
Tracy McGrady announced his retirement from the NBA on Monday, ending a 16-year career that included two scoring titles, seven All-Star appearances, injuries to his knee and back and zero playoff series wins while he was leading the way. The straight-from-high school project who blossomed into a dominant, two-way superstar will always be remembered, too, as a player who struggled with injuries. "Thank all of you who have supported me over 16 NBA seasons, 7 All-Stars, and countless exciting moments," McGrady tweeted on Monday morning. "Retiring from NBA. Stay tuned."
McGrady didn't rule out continuing his career overseas, perhaps in China where he played last season. "Officially retired from the NBA," he said on ESPN. "Door's still open."
McGrady was drafted by Toronto out of high school in 1997 and was outshined early in his career by Raptors star Vince Carter, McGrady's distant cousin. He became a star in Orlando, was traded to Houston in 2004 and also played for the Knicks, Pistons and Hawks before finishing up his career with the Spurs last season. He averaged 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in his career and at one point was considered one of the best perimeter players of his generation, a talent that rivaled Kobe Bryant and any other player in the league.
■ Free-agent forward Antawn Jamison told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that he'd reached agreement on a one-year deal with the Clippers for the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million. Jamison, a 15-year veteran who spent last season with the Lakers, is coming off an uneven season in which he averaged career lows in points (9.4), rebounds (4.8) and assists (0.7) while shooting 46.4 percent. He underwent surgery in late April to repair an injured right wrist.
The last word
The day at the U.S. Open tennis tournament started with big news from a veteran U.S. player: Three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist James Blake said he would retire after the tournament at age 33:
"I have had 14 pretty darn good years on tour, loved every minute of it, and I definitely couldn't have asked for a better career. There are so many athletes that say they can never replace that feeling of having that adrenaline rush, but I get more of an adrenaline rush now seeing my daughter wake up in the morning. That's something that I'm truly looking forward to — being able to spend more time with my wife and daughter."