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Friday Sports in Brief

September 3, 2022 GMT

TENNIS

NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams lost what is expected to be the last match of her transcendent tennis career.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion was eliminated from the U.S. Open in the third round by Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1 before an electric crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night.

Williams turns 41 this month and recently told the world that she is preparing to retire.

She has remained purposely vague about whether this appearance at Flushing Meadows definitely would be her final tournament. But everyone assumes it will be.

Williams gave away leads in each set against the 46th-ranked Tomljanovic and bowed out of the singles bracket about 24 hours after she and her sister, Venus, lost in the first round of doubles.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The university presidents who oversee the College Football Playoff voted Friday to expand the postseason model for determining a national champion from four to 12 teams no later than the 2026 season.

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The university leaders who make up the CFP’s Board of Managers would like to have the new format in place as soon as the 2024 season, if possible.

A process that started 14 1/2 months ago with an optimistic rollout of an ambitious plan, and then was derailed as conference leaders haggled over details and questioned each other’s motivations, is now finally moving forward.

In a unanimous vote, the presidents approved the original 12-team proposal that called for the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large picks, as determined by a selection committee, to make the playoff.

NFL

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips will retire at the end of the season after nearly 40 years with the franchise.

Phillips, an accountant by trade, joined the Bears as the team’s controller in 1983 and spent four years in that position before moving up the organization’s ladder. He became the fourth president of the founding NFL franchise in February 1999 and has had a hand since then in hiring four general managers, including Ryan Poles this year.

Phillips oversaw several renovations to the team’s suburban headquarters and played a key role in negotiating the oft-criticized renovation of Soldier Field in 2002.

Most recently, his focus has been on purchasing a 326-acre tract of land in suburban Arlington Heights, Illinois, where a new stadium and entertainment complex could be built. The team is scheduled to unveil conceptual plans for the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse — about 30 miles northwest of Soldier Field — at a community meeting Thursday in the town.

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NHL

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Vancouver Canucks signed forward J.T. Miller to a seven-year, $56 million contract Friday.

The 29-year-old Miller was Vancouver’s leading scorer last season with 99 points on 32 goals and 67 assists in 80 games. He was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season.

The Canucks acquired Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2019 NHL draft for goalie Marek Mazanec, a third-round pick in the 2019 draft and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 draft.

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WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Paige Bueckers intends to play basketball in the 2023-24 season for Connecticut after recovering from an ACL injury that’s sidelined her this season.

Speaking on campus Thursday for the first time since being hurt, Bueckers was adamant in saying she will not enter the 2023 WNBA Draft and will return to play college ball.

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Bueckers had an injury-marred 2021-22 season. She missed most of the season with tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear in her left knee. The Minnesota native returned for the NCAA tournament last spring and helped UConn to the title game, which it lost to No 1 South Carolina. In 17 games last season, Bueckers averaged 14.6 points.

OBITUARY

Earnie Shavers, whose thunderous punches stopped 68 fighters and earned him heavyweight title fights with Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes, has died. He was 78.

Former British boxer and close friend Kenny Rainford told The Associated Press in a telephone call from Liverpool, England, that his close friend died on Thursday in Virginia at the home of one of his daughters. A cause of death was not released.

Shavers’ death came a day after his birthday. Rainford said a funeral is planned for Sept. 17 in Warren, Ohio. Shavers was born in Garland, Alabama, in 1944 and grew up in the Youngstown, Ohio, area. He didn’t take up boxing until he was 22.

Shavers fought from 1969-1995, which included two abbreviated returns from retirement. He finished 74-14-1 with 68 knockouts.

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