Daily Bagel: Venus blames Toronto loss on her back, hitting partner disagrees
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• Video: Nice hot shot by Roberta Vinci at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. As they say in Canada: Stick save, and a beauty!
• Venus Williams lost to Kirsten Flipkens 0-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Williams says her back is still not 100 percent. However, her hitting partner disagrees.
The motion that once delivered the fastest women's serve in main draw competition (127 mph) looked restricted and hesitant, rarely cracking the 100 mph mark and producing several double faults.
"I just really started serving a lot more in the last week, so I'm not really 100 percent on the serve yet," said Williams, who has had to restrict her training because of her back injury. "So, to me, it was better not to take too many risks and just do something I felt more comfortable with. This week I will definitely be practicing my serve a lot more and getting more confident in it and more comfortable with serving out there."
But Williams' longtime hitting partner and adviser, David Witt, said that pain was not the reason she was holding back on her serve, which allows the possibility of improvement.
"The back's fine," Witt told ESPN.com. "That's not necessarily the back. She's just got to push up; use her legs more. Combination of a couple of things."
Williams' uneven performance could largely be attributed to the layoff, he added.
"She needs some more matches under her belt," he said. "I don't know how comfortable she felt out there.
"I'm really sorry that his words have caused so much attention, and also that they might have hurt my colleagues in some way, and with whom I have good and fair relationships. But as unfortunate as it sounds, I cannot be held responsible for his deeds and for his words because everybody is entitled to their opinion, even my father, and I love him so much, and respect him. He's helped me so much in my life to arrive where I am but sometimes, you know, people come up with their opinions as they like and me, I have to say that I didn't have any influence on that. And as I said, I cannot be responsible for it."
• It was a big day for Canada on Tuesday at the Rogers Cup. Five Canadian men are into the second round of the tournament for the first time in more than 40 years.
• Maria Sharapova graces the cover of Shape magazine.
• Billie Jean King says she couldn't reveal she was gay during the formative years of the WTA because she thought it would hurt the image of the tour.
• Non-tennis: Jimmy Fallon and Robin Thicke put the "Song of the Summer" debate to rest.
King told the assembled TV critics that the women's pro tour was just in its third year of existence in 1973 when she beat Bobby Riggs in their landmark ''Battle of the Sexes'' match.
''It was such a tenuous position,'' she said. ''We were labeled all the time 'women's libbers.' We were just always under the gun from the media. When I played Bobby Riggs, there wasn't one woman sports reporter (covering the match).''
King said she fought for 48 consecutive hours with her attorney and publicist about holding a news conference to announce her sexuality after she was sued by partner, Marilyn Barnett.
''The essence was I was outed, and at that time, I was still trying to find myself,'' she said. ''My poor parents are homophobic. I grew up homophobic, so you can imagine this challenge. I didn't get comfortable in my own skin until I was 51 about being gay.''