wiped away a tear as she walked off Court One, said moments after her remarkable win had condemned Williams to only her third opening round defeat at Wimbledon in 22 appearances.
“I definitely had to tell myself to stay calm, I have never played on a court so big, but I had to remind myself that the lines on the court are the same size.
“Everything around it might be bigger, but the lines are the same and after every point I was just telling myself to stay calm.
“I never thought this would happen, I am literally living my dream right now, and not many get to say that.
“So I am just happy that Wimbledon gave me the opportunity to play and I obviously never thought it would be this far,” added Gauff, who got a wildcard into the qualifying tournament.
Before the match, the teenager, known as Coco, had told her Instagram followers: “Two of my teachers found out I played tennis after I made the main draw here.”
If her Florida-based teachers needed any proof of exactly what she was up to, they only needed to tune into their TVs to see just why Wimbledon was going Coco-crazy on Monday.
The high school student completed a science test during the qualifying tournament and on Monday she aced the ultimate Wimbledon test by beating a player she described as “one of the greatest of all time” in front of a captivated Court One audience.
Williams could have been forgiven for thinking she had come unstuck against her younger self as Gauff turned up for her Wimbledon debut with a build and playing style that looked strikingly familiar.
A break in the fifth game of the opening set, which included a delectable lob over the statuesque Williams that left the crowd roaring their approval, was enough to win Gauff the first set and her nerveless display continued in the second set.
Two successive double faults from Williams handed Gauff a 3-2 advantage, and even when the teen fluffed her lines by handing back that advantage in the eighth game, she did not lose her composure.
Some thunderbolt shots saw her regain the break for a 5-4 lead. Williams hung on by saving three match points in the next game but she finally fell through the trap door as a forehand error handed Gauff the biggest victory of her young life.
While a magnanimous Williams declared that “the sky’s the limit” for Gauff, the teenager also paid tribute to her hero.
“After the match I told her just thank you for everything she did. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her,” she said.
“I was just telling her that she is so inspiring and that I always wanted to tell her that. I met her before, but I didn’t really have the guts to say anything.”
David Ortiz’s First Interview Since Shooting, Says He Almost Died
David Ortiz broke his silence with the media since being shot in the Dominican Republic, and he gave an emotional interview … acknowledging he almost died there.
The former Boston Red Sox slugger spoke with Univision in a sit-down that aired in Spanish on Saturday, answering a number of questions related to the scary incident in his home country this past June — when he was ambushed and shot in the back at a club.
Big Papi described the initial feeling of the bullet going in, saying he felt a stinging sensation … adding that in the first five seconds, he felt like he was in a living nightmare. He said the shooting made him disheartened, as he has no problems with anybody.
Ortiz went on to explain that he never lost consciousness en route to the hospital, but said he experienced something he’d never quite felt before … trying to survive for his life.
He says he’s never had his life threatened before, and that him sitting with his back to the street and no security around should be an implication … he’s not someone who’d ever think he was in danger. Then came the question about who did it … and why.
Ortiz says he has no idea why anyone might’ve wanted to kill him, again reiterating that he has no enemies … and no issues with anybody (especially criminals) that would make him worry.
Big Papi also touches on a rumor that Dominican drug lord Cesar Emilio Peralta might’ve been the one who ordered the hit, but he again came back with uncertainty … saying he couldn’t think of any reason why that would be the case — if, in fact, it is.
As we reported … authorities in the Dominican Republic have made several arrests in connection to the shooting, including the alleged shooter himself. Cops say that Ortiz was not the actual target, and that the hit was a case of mistaken identity.
Ortiz is unclear on that himself, but one thing that clearly hurt him as he was in the hospital … people apparently suggesting that he deserved what he’d gotten. He tears up as he recounts the recovery process, saying that at one point he was in a coma … and almost died.
Luckily, Big Papi is getting better each day. He threw out the first pitch at a recent Sox game — and seems to be doing well following multiple life-saving surgeries.
Still, it’s pretty gut-wrenching to hear it all again from the man himself.
Best Of Super Bowl Week: Top Reads From Patriots-Rams Coverage
With the Pro Bowl and the festivities surrounding it in the rear-view mirror, it’s finally Super Bowl week. The Los Angeles Rams will face the New England Patriots from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Sunday, but before that, there are a slew of events for those who will be hanging around the city as the championship game descends upon it.
Before the big game kicks off on Feb. 3, we here at Prestige run through the biggest events the NFL, Super Bowl Host Committee and Atlanta are putting on.
Jan. 26 – Feb. 2nd
Super Bowl Experience: The yearly “interactive theme park” will return, featuring tons of events and festivities for fans attending the game or simply in Atlanta for everything surrounding the game. There will be youth football clinics, player autograph sessions and much more throughout the week.
Super Bowl LIVE: Similar to the above, Super Bowl LIVE is the free-to-the-public “fan village,” which is usually decorated and themes around the host city, celebrating its culture, music and more.
Jan. 28 – Feb. 1
Fan Gallery: Ever wonder what us media folks are up to leading up to the game? The Fan Gallery is more or less a way to soak up all the frenzy and hype leading up to the big game, and not much else.
Super Bowl Opening Night: This is the national “kickoff” for Super Bowl festivities. This event includes much of the media day schedule, with players and coached speaking in press conferences prior to the big game.
Walter Payton Man of the Year Legacy Reception: It’s the second annual iteration of this event, which features past Man of the Year winners and 2018 nominees from each tea. It includes a cocktail reception, dinner and a silent auction.
20th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration: If gospel is your thing, well look no further than this.
Super Bowl Music Fest EA Sports Bowl feat. Ludacris, Migos and more: Well duh, it’s a concert!
24th Annual Kickoff to Rebuild:
Super Bowl Music Fest – Aerosmith & Post Malone: More music! This time without EA Sports.
Super Bowl Breakfast: This event has been going on since the late 80s, as fans mingle with some of the sport’s biggest names over a breakfast. The Bart Starr Award is also given out at this event.
Taste of the NFL | Party with a Purpose: Another food-driven event — which I’m totally fine with — this one featuring some of the top chefs in America, meet-and-greets, more NFL players and all that good stuff.
Super Bowl Music Fest — Super Bowl Eve feat. Bruno Mars and Cardi B: The finale of the three music concerts will take place on Super Bowl eve.
NFL Honors: This event is closed to the public, but the two-hour prime time awards special will air beginning at 9 p.m. ET on CBS, and will feature all of the biggest yearly awards being handed out by the NFL.
Game Day Fan Plaza: Pep squads, drumlines, photo opps, NFL shops and all those goodies await after clearing security on game day.
Super Bowl LIII: The Rams are playing the Patriots, if you didn’t know.
For any further explanation or a calendar of events for Super Bowl week, check here.
Super Bowl losers hangover? Not for the Patriots
ATLANTA — How did the New England Patriots get over a Super Bowl loss against the Philadelphia Eagles to make it back to Super Bowl LIII?
The better question, at least for the Patriots, might be: What Super Bowl loss? “Flush it and get back to work,” Patriots guard Shaq Mason said at Super Bowl opening night Monday. “I’d have to go back in time to remember that,” Patriots tackle Marcus Cannon said about last year’s Super Bowl. “I’m here now.”
Selective amnesia is good for the Patriots, who barely acknowledged last year’s Super Bowl when asked Monday night, but those who hate the team will happily recite the details. The Patriots played in a tight game against the Eagles, leading with less than three minutes left. Then the Eagles took the lead, got another field goal after a Tom Brady fumble, and New England’s Hail Mary at the end fell incomplete. All that work, just to watch the Eagles celebrate as you dodge confetti leaving the field.
A team could use a Super Bowl loss as motivation for the next season. Many Patriots said it never came up after they got back together, which is perhaps what you’d expect from Bill Belichick’s Patriots. Dwelling on the past would go against their laser focus on the present. Maybe that’s where the many, many Super Bowl losers who don’t make it back the next season go wrong. They spend too much time dwelling on the previous season.
“That’s the wrong thing to do,” Patriots tight end Dwayne Allen said. “Last year’s success or failure has no bearing on this team. What last year’s team did was last year’s team. The worst thing you can do is try to draw on inspiration from the previous team.”
The Patriots are back, partially because they never concerned themselves with losing the Super Bowl last season. What they accomplished, getting right back to the Super Bowl after losing, is surprisingly rare.
History of Super Bowl losers isn’t good
The Patriots are chasing the 1972 Miami Dolphins again, but not in the pursuit of perfection this time. Amazingly, the last team to lose a Super Bowl and then win the next season was the ’72 Dolphins. The only other team to do it was the 1971 Dallas Cowboys.
The Patriots have already bucked a trend just by making it back. The last team to lose a Super Bowl and make it back the next season was the 1994 Buffalo Bills. Of course, the 1992 and 1993 Bills did it too.
You’d think a team talented enough to win a conference championship would be sufficiently motivated the next season and have a good shot to make it right back to the Super Bowl after losing it. But it almost never happens.
Of the first 51 Super Bowl losing teams, 15 didn’t even make the playoffs the following season. From the 1999 Falcons through the 2008 Patriots, eight of 10 Super Bowl losers missed the playoffs, with seven of them posting a losing record. Recent Super Bowl runner-up teams have had better success. Since the 2008 Patriots missed the playoffs, due in large part to Brady’s ACL injury, nine of 10 have made the playoffs after losing the Super Bowl. The only exception was the 2016 Carolina Panthers, who went 6-10.
Still, what the Patriots did this season has been elusive. Only three of the past 24 losing Super Bowl teams even made it back to a conference championship: 2012 Patriots, 2013 49ers and this season’s Patriots.
It’s not like the Patriots didn’t hurt after losing the Super Bowl. They just didn’t let one loss carry into another season.
“It lingers however long you let it linger,” Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “Perspective is important whether you win or lose a Super Bowl. Certainly we lost a Super Bowl, but nobody died. If you hold onto that, it can be debilitating. You have to be able to move on.”
Patriots were able to put loss to Eagles behind them
Had the Patriots not beat the Chiefs in the AFC championship game, people might have cited a Super Bowl hangover for New England.
It’s not like the Patriots were a dominant force from beginning to end. They went 11-5 with a some weird road losses. It wasn’t a vintage Patriots team. But many talked about the character of the team, not only in overcoming the Super Bowl hangover but in getting through adversity during the season.
“We had to call on that character, certainly with the way this season went, to get ourselves back to this position,” Slater said.
And here the Patriots are, back in the Super Bowl, trying to become the first team in 46 years to win a title after losing a Super Bowl the year before. There weren’t many long speeches on Monday night about the Eagles loss and what it meant, or how the Patriots used it every day as motivation to get back. It’s just a new season, a new team, and the crushing disappointment of last year’s Super Bowl doesn’t matter to them anymore.
“That’s in the past. We’re here right now,” Cannon said. “We’re back and we have the chance to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
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