National sports briefs: Women’s tennis returns to Garden
NEW YORK ó Serena and Venus gave the crowd exactly what it wanted ó an all-Williams final for the return of women’s tennis to Madison Square Garden.
Serena Williams shook off an early challenge from Ana Ivanovic and won 6-3 to reach the Billie Jean King Cup championship after sister Venus advanced with a 6-4 victory over Jelena Jankovic in the one-night exhibition.
Venus Williams recorded the only break in the first semifinal as women’s tennis returned to the Garden after a nine-year absence.
Before the final, former President Bill Clinton, figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nancy Kerrigan and race car driver Janet Guthrie participated in a tribute to Billie Jean King, who founded the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó An Alabama football fan who won $5 million in a slander lawsuit against the NCAA has given up on collecting the money and will instead push for a new trial where he could win even more, his attorney said Monday.
A second trial could result in an even larger verdict for Ray Keller, who originally sought $33.5 million from the NCAA. It could, of course, also end in victory for the NCAA.
Keller argued that the sanctioning organization slandered and libeled him when it announced penalties against the Crimson Tide seven years ago by referring to him and other then-boosters as “parasites,” “pariahs” and “rogue boosters.” The NCAA said it never publicly identified Keller, and it portrayed him as a rabid fan.
RALEIGH ó The Carolina Hurricanes will be without Jussi Jokinen because the forward has returned to Finland following the death of his father.
General manager Jim Rutherford made the announcement Monday in a statement. There was no timetable given for his return.
* NEWARK, N.J. ó New Jersey added an experienced defenseman two days before the trade deadline, acquiring Niclas Havelid from the Atlanta Thrashers for rookie defenseman Anssi Salmela.
* ST. PAUL, Minn. ó Marian Gaborik’s long recovery from hip surgery got a little bit shorter on Monday when he returned to the Twin Cities to get ready to rejoin Minnesota.
* TORONTO ó Dallas forward Steve Ott was suspended one game by the NHL for attempting to injure Anaheim’s Travis Moen during a fight Saturday.
* UNIONDALE, N.Y. ó Emergency call-up Jesse Joensuu scored his first NHL goal in his first game and the New York Islanders beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 on Monday night in a matchup of cellar dwellers in the league’s two conferences.
The Islanders, who own the league’s worst record (20-36-7), got offense from another unexpected source as defenseman Bruno Gervais scored for the first time in 161 games ó dating to April 18, 2006.