NEW YORK (AP) — Much like for so many other folks, Serena Williams’ last match at the U.S. Open was must-see TV for players still in the tournament, so Jessica Pegula and Petra Kvitova tuned in from their hotel rooms the night before their victories led off Saturday’s schedule and set up a fourth-round showdown.
“Of course I watched Serena. I’m like everyone else,” said Pegula, a 28-year-old American who is seeded No. 8 at Flushing Meadows and beat qualifier Yuan Yue 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-0. “You feel kind of sad that’s how it ends. But, I don’t know, like I got a little, like, sentimental, too, watching her, how emotional she was getting.”
Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion from the Czech Republic, credited Williams’ last stand — the owner of 23 Grand Slam titles fended off five match points before bowing out in three sets against Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday night in what is expected to be her final contest — with offering inspiration.
“It was very special. She didn’t want to leave the court, for sure. That was the same case with me today, actually. I didn’t want to go out of this tournament, so I was just there hanging (in), somehow,” said Kvitova, who erased deficit after deficit, including a pair of match points, to edge Garbiñe Muguruza 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (12-10).
“That’s what Serena showed last night,” said Kvitova, who dropped her racket and covered her face with her ends when what she called a “nightmare” of a tiebreaker was over. “It was nice to see her yesterday, fighting until the end.”
Yes, Williams is gone, leaving the year’s last major tournament — and, in some ways, the sport as a whole — without its biggest star and storyline. Still, the show must go on.
So there was Kvitova, undaunted as ever, despite dropping the first set, despite trailing 5-2 in the third, despite being a point from defeat twice at 6-5.
Here’s how close this one was: Kvitova won 109 total points, Muguruza 108.
“Left everything on the court today,” said No. 9 Muguruza, a two-time Slam winner whose departure means the bracket was without six of the top 10 women before the third round was even done.
Two other were on the schedule later Saturday: No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka.
The night session in Ashe featured 22-time major champ Rafael Nadal against Richard Gasquet, followed by Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins against Caroline Garcia.
It was going to be tough for either of those matches to live up to the sort attention Williams drew, or the atmosphere she helped create, during her three-match run in Ashe.
“I just can’t believe the ‘era of Serena’ on the tennis court is over,” Pegula said. “I mean, it’s just hard to picture tennis without her.”
In other action Saturday, two-time Australian Open champion Viktoria Azarenka was a 6-3, 6-0 winner against Petra Martic; No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz, a 19-year-old Spaniard, defeated unseeded Jenson Brooksby, a 21-year-old Californian, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3; No. 7 Cam Norrie beat No. 28 Holger Rune 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 in the men’s draw; and No. 9 Andrey Rublev got past No. 19 Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (10-7). Norrie and Rublev play each other next.
As for Kvitova-Muguruza, Rublev-Shapovalov required the new final-set tiebreaker format to determine the winner. The four Grand Slam tournaments agreed to adopt a uniform system this year, with the third sets of women’s matches and fifth sets of men’s decided by a first-to-10, win-by-two formula; the U.S. Open used to have the more traditional first-to-seven setup.
Pegula’s domination of her last set made that sort of thing entirely unnecessary. She had wasted a chance to close out the victory a half-hour earlier when she wasn’t able to convert her match point, but quickly regrouped.
Pegula started her Grand Slam career by going 3-8. She’s gone 22-7 since, including runs to quarterfinals at the Australian Open each of the past two years and the French Open this year.
The 28-year-old American, whose parents own the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, came into Saturday with an 0-2 record in third-round matches at Flushing Meadows, including a loss to Kvitova in 2020.
Pegula gets another shot at her Monday.
“Petra is so hard to play. I feel like when she’s on, she blows you off the court. And then sometimes she can be off. .. She’s a fighter. When it clicks, it’s really difficult,” Pegula said, then was sure to add: “I think I’m a much better player now than I was when I played her last time.”
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Lawyers for the US tell a UK court why WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange should face spying charges
LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange won’t find out until next month at the earliest whether he can challenge extradition to the U.S. on spying charges, or if his long legal battle in Britain has run out of road.
Two High Court judges said Wednesday they would take time to consider their verdict after a two-day hearing in which Assange’s lawyers argued sending him to the United States would risk a “flagrant denial of justice.”
Attorneys for the U.S., where Assange has been indicted on espionage charges, said he put innocent lives at risk and went beyond journalism in his bid to solicit, steal and indiscriminately publish classified U.S. government documents.
Assange’s lawyers asked the High Court to grant him a new appeal — his last roll of the legal dice in the saga that has kept him in a British high-security prison for the past five years.
The judges overseeing the case reserved their decision, and a ruling on Assange’s future is not expected until March at the earliest.
If judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson rule against Assange, he can ask the European Court of Human Rights to block his extradition — though supporters worry he could be put on a plane to the U.S. before that happens, because the British government has already signed an extradition order.
The 52-year-old Australian has been indicted on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse over his website’s publication of a trove of classified U.S. documents almost 15 years ago. American prosecutors allege Assange encouraged and helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published, putting lives at risk.
Lawyer Clair Dobbin, representing the U.S. government, said Wednesday that Assange damaged U.S. security and intelligence services and “created a grave and imminent risk” by releasing the hundreds of thousands of documents — risks that could harm and lead to the arbitrary detention of innocent people, many of whom lived in war zones or under repressive regimes.
Dobbin added that in encouraging Manning and others to hack into government computers and steal from them, Assange was “going a very considerable way beyond” a journalist gathering information.
Assange was “not someone who has just set up an online box to which people can provide classified information,” she said. “The allegations are that he sought to encourage theft and hacking that would benefit WikiLeaks.”
Assange’s supporters maintain he is a secrecy-busting journalist who exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have long argued that the prosecution is politically motivated and he won’t get a fair trial in the U.S.
Assange’s lawyers argued on the first day of the hearing on Tuesday that American authorities are seeking to punish him for WikiLeaks’ “exposure of criminality on the part of the U.S. government on an unprecedented scale,” including torture and killings.
Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said there is “a real risk he may suffer a flagrant denial of justice” if he is sent to the U.S.
Dobbin said the prosecution is based on law and evidence, and has remained consistent despite the changes of government in the U.S. during the legal battle.
She added that the First Amendment does not confer immunity on journalists who break the law. Media outlets that went through the process of redacting the documents before publishing them are not being prosecuted, she said.
Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted, though American authorities have said the sentence is likely to be much shorter.
Assange was absent from court on both days because he is unwell, WikiLeaks said. Stella Assange, his wife, said he had wanted to attend, but was “not in good condition.”
Assange’s family and supporters say his physical and mental health have suffered during more than a decade of legal battles, including seven years in self-exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
“Julian is a political prisoner and he has to be released,” said Stella Assange, who married the WikiLeaks founder in prison in 2022.
“They’re putting Julian into the hands of the country and of the people who plotted his assassination,” she added, referring to unproven claims by Assange’s lawyers that he was a target of a CIA plot to kidnap or kill him while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Supporters holding “Free Julian Assange” signs and chanting “there is only one decision — no extradition” protested outside the High Court building for a second day.
Assange’s legal troubles began in 2010, when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women. In 2012, Assange jumped bail and sought refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy.
The relationship between Assange and his hosts eventually soured, and he was evicted from the embassy in April 2019. British police immediately arrested and imprisoned him for breaching bail in 2012. Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed.
A U.K. district court judge rejected the U.S. extradition request in 2021 on the grounds that Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions. Higher courts overturned that decision after getting assurances from the U.S. about his treatment. The British government signed an extradition order in June 2022.
Meanwhile, the Australian parliament last week called for Assange to be allowed to return to his homeland.
Andrew Wilkie, an Australian lawmaker who attended the hearing, said he hoped that sent a strong message to the U.K. and U.S. governments to end the legal fight. “This has gone on long enough,” he said.
Associated Press video journalists Kwiyeon Ha and Jo Kearney contributed to this report.
Biden to create cybersecurity standards for nation’s ports as concerns grow over vulnerabilities
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order and created a federal rule aimed at better securing the nation’s ports from potential cyberattacks.
The administration is outlining a set of cybersecurity regulations that port operators must comply with across the country, not unlike standardized safety regulations that seek to prevent injury or damage to people and infrastructure.
“We want to ensure there are similar requirements for cyber, when a cyberattack can cause just as much if not more damage than a storm or another physical threat,” said Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser at the White House.
Nationwide, ports employ roughly 31 million people and contribute $5.4 trillion to the economy, and could be left vulnerable to a ransomware or other brand of cyberattack, Neuberger said. The standardized set of requirements is designed to help protect against that.
The new requirements are part of the federal government’s focus on modernizing how critical infrastructure like power grids, ports and pipelines are protected as they are increasingly managed and controlled online, often remotely. There is no set of nationwide standards that govern how operators should protect against potential attacks online.
The threat continues to grow. Hostile activity in cyberspace — from spying to the planting of malware to infect and disrupt a country’s infrastructure — has become a hallmark of modern geopolitical rivalry.
For example, in 2021, the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline had to temporarily halt operations after it fell victim to a ransomware attack in which hackers hold a victim’s data or device hostage in exchange for money. The company, Colonial Pipeline, paid $4.4 million to a Russia-based hacker group, though Justice Department officials later recovered much of the money.
Ports, too, are vulnerable. In Australia last year, a cyber incident forced one of the country’s largest port operators to suspend operations for three days.
In the U.S., roughly 80% of the giant cranes used to lift and haul cargo off ships onto U.S. docks come from China, and are controlled remotely, said Admiral John Vann, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s cyber command. That leaves them vulnerable to attack, he said.
Late last month, U.S. officials said they had disrupted a state-backed Chinese effort to plant malware that could be used to damage civilian infrastructure. Vann said this type of potential attack was a concern as officials pushed for new standards, but they are also worried about the possibility for criminal activity.
The new standards, which will be subject to a public comment period, will be required for any port operator and there will be enforcement actions for failing to comply with the standards, though the officials did not outline them. They require port operators to notify authorities when they have been victimized by a cyberattack. The actions also give the Coast Guard, which regulates the nation’s ports, the ability to respond to cyberattacks.
Jill Biden is announcing $100 million in funding for research and development into women’s health
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden on Wednesday announced $100 million in federal funding for research and development into women’s health as part of a new White House initiative that she is heading up.
The money is the first major deliverable of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, which was announced late last year. The money comes from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, which is under the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
The first lady announced the ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health during an appearance in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Biden has said women don’t know enough about their health because the research historically has been underfunded and lacking. The White House initiative aims to change the approach to and increase funding for women’s health research.
The $100 million will be used to invest early in “life-changing” work being done by women’s health researchers and startup companies that cannot get private support, Biden said.
“We will build a health care system that puts women and their lived experiences at its center,” she said. “Where no woman or girl has to hear that ‘it’s all in your head,’ or, ‘it’s just stress.’” Where women aren’t just an after-thought, but a first-thought. Where women don’t just survive with chronic conditions, but lead long and healthy lives.”
President Joe Biden created the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health in 2022 to work on advancing solutions to health issues. The agency is part of what he called his “ unity agenda.”
In the coming weeks, the agency will solicit ideas for groundbreaking research and development to address women’s health, according to the White House.
The first lady said last year when the White House initiative was announced in November that it grew out of meeting she had had with Maria Shriver, a women’s health advocate and former California first lady. Shriver, Biden said, spoke of the need for a public-private effort to close the gaps in women’s health research. Shriver also participated in Wednesday’s announcement in Massachusetts.
The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research is led by Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council.