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Serena beats Radwanska for fifth Wimbledon title

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Serena beats Radwanska for fifth Wimbledon title

WIMBLEDON, England -- Serena Williams is back, and she looks almost as good as ever. The 30-year-old American won her fifth Wimbledon title Saturday on Centre Court, beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 to claim her 14th major championship. After hitting a backhand winner on match point, she fell onto her back to the grass. She then rose with a grin as big sister Venus -- another five-time Wimbledon champion -- smiled and applauded, along with the rest of the crowd. After shaking hands with Radwanska, Williams climbed into the box where her family was seated. She hugged her father, Venus, their mother and others. "I can't even describe it. I almost didn't make it," said Williams, who has battled health issues since winning the 2010 Wimbledon title. "A few years ago, you know, I was in the hospital, and now I'm here again. It's so worth it, and I'm so happy." Out on court, Williams had little trouble at the start, using her hard serve and powerful groundstrokes to win the first five games and run Radwanska all over the grass. Radwanska, who was playing in her first Grand Slam final, has been ill with a respiratory problem, making it difficult for her to speak. In the second set and already down a break, the third-seeded Pole was coughing and blowing her nose during a changeover. But she broke Williams in the next game to even the score at 4-4, and then broke again to win the second set. Williams responded in the third set, breaking twice and serving out to win another major title. Williams finished with 58 winners to 13 for Radwanska, including an edge of 20-3 in the final set. Williams lost only eight points on her first serve. "Aggie played so well. That's why she has had such a great career, and so young," Williams told the crowd. "You guys should give her another round of applause because she's amazing and she did an amazing job today." The match was played with the Centre Court roof open, and it was delayed by rain for a short time after the first set. "Serena played too good today, but I'm just very happy to be here in the final," Radwanska said. "It was not my day. I'll try just next year. We'll see." Later Saturday, Serena and Venus Williams will play in the doubles final. A little more than a month ago, many started writing Williams off for good. She lost in the first round of this year's French Open, the first time she had ever exited a Grand Slam tournament that early. But at Wimbledon, she looked every bit a champion again. She broke her own tournament record for aces in a match with 23 against Zheng Jie in the third round. Less than a week later, she eclipsed that mark with 24 against Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals. On Saturday, she finished with 17 aces and a record 102 for the tournament. It was Williams' first Grand Slam title since she won at the All England Club two years ago. Shortly after winning that title, Williams cut her feet on glass at a restaurant, leading to a series of health problems, including being hospitalized for clots in her lungs. "I never dreamt of being here again, being so down," Williams said. "Never give up. You can continue." Williams is the first woman in her 30s to win a Wimbledon title since Martina Navratilova, who won at the All England Club in 1990 when she was 33. In the men's final on Sunday, six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer will face British hope Andy Murray. The fourth-seeded Murray is trying to become the first British man to win the title at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936.

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Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

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NBC Sports Washington

Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

I haven’t felt this way since my father passed last April. I’m not comparing the two, at all, but there were some similarities.

Rich Tandler had life experience. Few people accomplish what he did; total life reinvention. 

Think about that. 

After raising his two successful children and a lifetime in the restaurant business, Tandler created a blog. That blog became big enough to eventually become a full-time job, and over time, put him on television and send him all over the world. 

That’s wild. 

We get so caught up in the “startups” and “disruptors” from Silicon Valley that we missed a true internet success story in Rich Tandler. Our world has become extra cynical. The loudest snark wins, especially on the internet. 

Tandler didn’t trade in those currencies. 

He provided good, quality information. He provided insight and analysis from six decades of obsessing over a football team. 

And fans loved him for it. 

The outpouring from folks that read "Need to Know" or listened to the podcast has been incredible. I’ve been flooded with messages from people, and one overwhelming response is that while they didn’t really know Tandler, they feel like they did.

Well, I was lucky to know him pretty well. And his persona on air was the same way off air. 

Tandler helped me a in a lot of ways. I can be impulsive and have a temper, Tandler would calm me down. Whenever I had something important to say, news to break or a sharp angle of criticism, I would run it by Tandler first. Sometimes, maybe often, I would say too much, and he would reign me in. 

Tandler loved pointing out mistakes. If the universe gave honorary degrees for pointing out minor math errors in salary cap blog posts, Tandler would have a Ph.D. 

He was smart and he was sharp. Good natured but feisty. 

He could dish it out plenty in a media room full of alphas. And he literally dished it out; Tandler controlled all the plastic utensils and paper plates that every media member used at Redskins Park. When we were running low on forks, Tandler would put out some not too subtle calls to action. 

I think for a while he considered the podcast an annoyance, but somewhere along the way, we had a breakthrough. He realized its potential, and everywhere we went, listeners came up and told us how much they enjoyed it. 

That made an impact on RT. And seemingly overnight, he was all in. That’s when things really started to gain steam. Wherever I am in my career, Tandler played a huge role in it. 

But that kind of doesn’t matter now. We will keep the pod going but it will never be the same. Not better, not worse, but way, way different. Same thing with writing and TV. The show will go on, but it won't be the same. It will never be the same. 

In the hours since I learned of Tandler’s passing, I’ve done some reading. I drank a bunch. And I ended up landing on some YouTube videos. 

The one I kept going back to was Jimmy V’s famous ESPY speech. Before he died, Jimmy V implored us all to think, laugh and cry every day, and that would lead to a good, full life. 

If there was ever a dude that laughed, it was Rich Tandler. 

His belly laugh was contagious, and his wit was superior. There were the wacky Tandler’s Got Jokes, and the sly one liners about players, plays and our road antics. 

It wasn’t all laughter either. Tandler was smart as hell, and he was always thinking about new ways to present content for Redskins fans. 

Seriously, our organization employs an army of young and talented digital-first thinkers. And Tandler generated more web traffic than all of them. He constantly tried to figure out why people would read something, or the optimal time for us to drop a new podcast. 

Where I’m an idea guy, Tandler was all execution. I’m a terrible planner and constantly late. Tandler would be on time and busting my chops about our lack of schedule. It’s just how we operated. 

As for crying, Tandler wasn’t much of one. I did see him tear up from laughing a few times, and once because it was real windy when we were taping a segment and something got in his eye. 

I’m not much of a crier either. I’m glad that Jimmy V was, but it’s just not me. 

Thinking about Tandler though in the last 36 hours, there have been some truly hard moments. He was kind and gracious. A true gentleman. 

He never took personal shots at the team we cover, or their front office. Plenty do. He would certainly say when things were bad, and say it loudly. He was binary in a world full of context. 

He was a good dude. He was my coworker, my partner and my friend. 

And damn if it isn’t getting dusty in here all of a sudden. 

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Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

The Washington Wizards open their regular season on Thursday night against the Miami Heat. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Just one week ago, it would have seemed near impossible that Dwight Howard, the Wizards' biggest offseason acquisition, would be ready to play in the season opener, but after three solid days of practice, it can't be ruled out. The Wizards plan to evaluate him throughout the day on Thursday to determine if he can take the court in what would be his first live game action with his new team.

Howard, 32, missed the entire preseason and nearly all of their practices leading up to the opener with a strained piriformis muscle. Though reports have been encouraging from his three practices, he is not yet in game shape. Even if he can play, expect him to be limited. If he can't play, Ian Mahinmi will get the start.

Heat are banged up

Miami is not only coming off a game the night before, as they lost in their season opener to the Orlando Magic, but they are missing some key guys. Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow are out due to injuries.

That will leave Miami perilously thin at the guard and small forward position. That happens to be an area of the roster where the Wizards are especially deep, now with Austin Rivers as the backup shooting guard behind Bradley Beal and with first round pick Troy Brown Jr. behind Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.

That said, Waiters and Ellington being out means Dwyane Wade may get more run and, as we saw in the preseason, he is still very hard to stop. He is capable of a big night, especially given it's so early in the year and he doesn't yet have the wear-and-tear of a long season.

Can Beal reach the next level?

One of the most important indicators of how much better the Wizards will be this season is the continued improvement of their young players. John Wall, Porter and Oubre are included in that and particularly Oubre, who is entering an important season in the final year of his contract.

But the guy who improved more than anyone last year and has a chance to take another big leap this season is Beal. Now with one All-Star nod under his belt, what does he have for an encore? 

If Beal can get his scoring average up even higher from the 22.6 he put up last season, he could enter the All-NBA conversation. And he now has more help than ever with Rivers behind him. Beal should, in theory, be more fresh each night with Rivers taking away some of his workload. 

The Heat offer a good matchup defensively for Beal with Josh Richardson. He is one of the more underrated players in basketball and is a menace on the perimeter.

"I've been a fan of his since I played him in college at Tennessee," Beal said. "He's always been a pest. He's super athletic, sneaky athletic. And I feel like he developed his shot to where you have to respect it. If you go under [on screens], he's shooting it."

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