Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, announced last week that he was retiring from that position at the end of the 2014. Selig found his early years filled with controversy and was held as a villain with players and the public. He endured to leave Major League Baseball in an unprecedented position of labor peace and player/owner prosperity.

He purchased the bankrupt Seattle Pilots franchise in 1970 and moved it to Milwaukee. Under his watch the team won "Organization of the Year awards seven times. He was a hero in Milwaukee.

He was convinced to become acting commissioner in 1992, which became permanent in 1998. He walked into a troubled time for baseball. 1994 saw a season long strike that embittered all sides. Attendance dropped dramatically as did television viewership and memorabilia purchases. The fans were disgusted, and he was seen as a Nero fiddling while the sport burned.

Since then, there has been uninterrupted play. This is the longest period of labor peace in baseball since the first collective bargaining agreement negotiated between management and the Players Association. While the steroid fueled home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa brought the fans back, the continuation of this peace allowed MLB to market on branding and creating ancillary revenue streams. This resulted in the gross receipts of baseball increasing by six times, from $1.2 billion to $7.5 billion. Revenue sharing between teams has clearly operated for competitive balance. Fiscal reforms in respect to debt and other issues shored up the stability of franchises.

Selig expanded the postseason format, institutedinterleague play and created the wild-card playoff berths, which have sustained more interest in more teams through the end of the season. He brought baseball into the modern era by founding MLB Advanced Media, which expanded its reach online. He created the MLB Network to drive audiences and revenue. Local television packages have expanded exponentially.

In many ways, the most difficult issue facing baseball has been the use of steroids, HGH and other ways to enhance performance. Every part of baseball was slow in reacting to an epidemic that threatens to challenge the credibility of standings and statistics by undercutting the level playing field. But he set up a comprehensive and more aggressive Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program through collective bargaining. The response to the Biogenesis scandal was much more direct than in the past.

Baseball has been active in charitable and community programs and Jackie Robinson's jersey was retired league in 1997 and April 15 is "Jackie Robinson Day" throughout MLB.

Little of this would be possible were it not for a new paradigm of cooperation between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association. From Marvin Miller through Don Fehr to the current Michael Weiner, players have been blessed with the brightest and most talented leadership. Can you remember those days when most owners were claiming poverty and lack of a future for their franchises? It has been a long time since those voices overshadowed the play on the field and baseball has much to than Bud Selig for.

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The Midwest takes a pounding in GQ's ranking of the 20 Worst Sports Franchises of All Time as it is home for the bottom three selections.

The feature in the October issue chronicles the bad decisions and bum luck that have plagued these perennially pained teams. In countdown fashion, the medal stand of misfortune spotlights ... the Chicago Cubs, Detroit Lions and Every Cleveland Sports Franchise.

GQ writer Rob Tannenbaum itemizes many of the scarring moments from Cleveland sports history but perhaps sums it best with this fact: "Between the Browns, the Indians, and the Cavaliers, Cleveland last celebrated a title four years before LeBron’s mother was born."

(And that doesn't even cover the brief NHL run of the Cleveland Barons, a team that lasted just two seasons before merging with the Minnesota North Stars.)

Based on this track record, Tannenbaum doesn't blame LeBron James for escaping to Miami.

The Los Angeles Clippers and the Charlotte Bobcats round out the bottom five. The respective owners, Donald Sterling and Michael Jordan, are cited as the source of misery.

Tannenbaum also includes defunct franchises from defunct leagues, such as the Washington Federals of the USFL, and provides compelling reasons for their inclusion.

For the complete rundown of sad-sack sporting outfits, go to GQ.com

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The Guggenheim group are heroes today in Southern California as the Dodgers defeated Arizona 7-6 to clinch the National League West title. The group promised to bring quality baseball and victory back to Los Angeles after the wretched reign of Frank McCourt and in their first full year of ownership, the Dodgers launched an improbable midseason onslaught of victories to reach this point.

The Dodgers have held the heart of Los Angeles sports fans for years. With a set lineup, a beautiful ballpark, Vin Scully and a tenure that began in 1958, they have always marketed the nation's second largest population center like a small town. Straight-A nights, Boy Scout nights, Kiwanis nights -- it was a special occasion to go to Dodger Stadium notwithstanding who the opponent was or who was pitching.

I fell in love with baseball growing up in Los Angeles as a hardcore rabid Dodger fan. From Koufax and Wills to Garvey and Cey to Gibson's homer they have been a classic franchise. Until the dark times. When Fox traded catcher Mike Piazza, it destroyed the set lineup tradition.

McCourt never had sufficient financing to buy the team in the first place. He was heavily leveraged. He allegedly used the team like a piggy bank, fielding mediocre lineups and using revenues to support a lavish lifestyle. Fans began staying away in droves. The drama of the McCourt divorce overshadowed the team's play on the field. He extorted a king's ransom of undeserved profit for mishandling the team when Guggenheim bought them in May of 2012.

Guggenheim paid a shocking $2.15 billion for the franchise and stadium and were widely ridiculed. But they did not rise to financial primacy with rash analysis. They knew they had a rich television market and a beloved franchise that dominated Southern California. And when they turned around and struck a $7 billion television rights deal with Time-Warner, their judgment started to make sense. They did not walk away like McCourt with the money -- they invested heavily in the stadium and the team.

The Dodgers had a series of injuries and a makeshift lineup of sometime reserves and looked miserable the first months of the season. The new ownership had invested a fortune in young Cuban Yasiel Puig and when he was called up he became the most dynamic player in baseball.

The return of another major investment, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, electrified the team. He is hitting .351, and has 20 homers and 57 RBI's having missed 50 games. Carl Crawford, another costly acquisition in the Red Sox trade got healthy and hit in the .300's. Highly paid Adrian Gonzalez has hit near .300 and is approaching 100 RBIs. And in free agency, the team spent mega-dollars to acquire Zack Greinke, who is 15-3 and forms, with Clayton Kershaw, the most dynamic one-two pitching punch in baseball.

It is rarely true, no matter how often repeated, that money buys World Series titles. Look at recent history. The Dodgers needed to come together and play like a unit with confidence, and they have. Traditionally the Dodgers built through the farm system and used their own players in a set line up for years. But that system had atrophied, and a heavy dose of testosterone replacement was necessary to give the Dodgers the tools.

I feel bad for Angel owner Artie Moreno, who has been reinvesting in his team for years. But Thursday was the Dodgers' night, as they have taken the first step back to redemption.

Thank you, Guggenheim. Baseball is better for you.

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For a second, consider what happens when you injure your leg. If it's really bad, it can get expensive with a trip in the ambulance to the emergency room where a doctor will look at it and schedule an X-ray or MRI or something similar. There will be follow-up visits and at worst some physical therapy -- all of which you're responsible for scheduling.

Now consider what happens when an NFL player gets injured: There's immediately a trainer who rushes on the field. MRI and X-ray machines on site. A doctor who will diagnose and, if you choose, perform any surgery that's necessary. And of course, supervised rehab that includes an underwater treadmill, an expert to modify a workout and of course, a dietician to make sure you're eating everything to get well as soon as possible.

"It's nice," said NFL Physicians Society president and St. Louis Rams team doctor Matt Matava, "to have unlimited resources."

Below, a graphic via Infographic World of just how many people work on the medical staff on game days:

Their job, while perhaps the dream one with unlimited resources and chances to change sports medicine, is also fraught with some tough moments: Diagnoses that end careers, and of course, increased scrutiny and worry about correctly diagnosing head injuries in football players.

“I’ve had some patients say and players say your job security is based on wins and loses, how do we know you’re (being honest), said Matava, during an interview at the Giants' practice facility. “[The Giants' staff] can't say this because the Giants are always good, but you know with the Rams, we’ve survived 2 and 14 seasons and 3 and 13 seasons and we're still employed. So our job security is not predicated on wins and losses, and it has to be that way."

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By Steve Silver
The Legal Blitz

The figure $756 million represents many different things to many different people. To sports fans it is the unfathomable amount of money the NFL paid to settle the now infamous concussion lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 former players. To the NFL it is pocket change, compared to the billions of dollars it faced in potential liability, to keep a lot of unsavory documents and testimony out of the public domain. To the players themselves, it represented a start, but probably will not provide any real help to those suffering the long-term consequences of repeated brain trauma or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Yet while the NFL settled its concussion mess for the time being, the NHL should look at that $756 million settlement and hide under the bed. In the coming years no full-contact professional sport will be immune from the realities of concussion litigation. Every league will have its price -- even the all mighty NCAA is facing its own massive concussion lawsuit.

However, the NCAA, NFL, MLB, and NBA all have television deals worth more than $1 billion annually. The NHL only receives $200 million per year, meaning a massive litigation verdict would cripple the league. $756 million could be the straw that breaks hockey's back.

Such a doomsday scenario is one step closer to reality thanks to a lawsuit filed by the estate of a former NHL enforcer whose sole job was to spread doom on the ice.

The family of former New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild forward Derek Boogaard filed a wrongful death suit in the Illinois Cook County Circuit Court in May alleging that the NHL is responsible for his brain damage and subsequent addiction to prescription painkillers (full text below). The defendants named in the lawsuit include the NHL, the NHL Board of Governors and league commissioner Gary Bettman. Boogaard, nicknamed The Boogeyman, died from a painkiller overdose in 2011 at the age of 28.

Now that football put a hefty price tag on concussions a few weeks ago, the Boogaard lawsuit should strike fear into the NHL as training camps open nationwide.

Although the Boogaard estate’s attorney, William Gibbs, of the Chicago-based law firm Corboy and Demetrio, has only pled the jurisdictional minimum of $50,000, if he can prove that the NHL was negligent in treating Boogaard, the damages will almost certainly reach seven figures. More importantly, if Boogaard’s estate can prevail, it will open the door to many more lawsuits in the future.

What makes the Boogaard lawsuit most compelling is that it sheds light on the unsavory and unglamorous reality of fighting in the NHL in exquisite detail. For instance, consider these cringe-worthy facts from the Complaint:

  • Boogaard played in 277 NHL games and logged 589 penalty minutes with 66 fights and only three goals
    After Boogaard fractured a tooth, NHL staffers wrote prescriptions for 432 pills of the narcotic pain reliever hydrocodone, which is used in Vicodin, in a single month.
  • Boogaard played in 277 NHL games and logged 589 penalty minutes with 66 fights and only three goals
    After Boogaard fractured a tooth, NHL staffers wrote prescriptions for 432 pills of the narcotic pain reliever hydrocodone, which is used in Vicodin, in a single month.
  • During a 16-day period after the 2008-09 staffers prescribed more than 150 pills of Oxycodone.
    Boogaard received 13 injections of Toradol, a drug that masks the body’s ability to feel pain.
  • From 2008-09, NHL doctors and staffers gave Boogaard prescriptions for 1,021 pills.
  • On April 4, 2011, Boogaard was so impaired at a New York Rangers practice that he could not stay up on his skates and fell numerous times.

The NHL will certainly offer a strong defense that it did not know Boogaard was addicted to painkillers and could not have foreseen his untimely death. Procedurally, the NHL, like the NFL did, will seek to remove the case to federal court, then argue, again, like the NFL, that the collective bargaining agreement pre-empts the lawsuit.

Boogaard's estate will have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that NHL medical staff caused him to become addicted to painkillers, knew about his addiction, and continued to give him the prescriptions that ultimately killed him. Many of these prescriptions, including sleeping pills and muscle relaxants, were written with no specific injury or reason noted. Additionally, a post-mortem study of Boogaard's brain by the Boston University School of Medicine, Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy revealed that Boogaard had Stage II CTE as a result of the repeated blows to his head in hockey.

That CTE diagnosis and the seemingly unprofessional conduct by NHL medical personnel could give this lawsuit strong enough legs to withstand the best defense lawyers Gary Bettman can hire. So while you focus on football this fall, keep an eye on the Boogaard lawsuit as the NHL might have to pawn Lord Stanley’s Cup to pay the litigation bill.


Derek Boogaard Lawsuit against NHL

-- Follow Steve Silver on Twitter @thelegalblitz.

More Stories from The Legal Blitz :
-- Recent Lawsuit Ruling Brings NCAA Athletes One Step Closer To The Money They Deserve
-- Why Are Only Luxury Teams Willing to Pay the NBA Luxury Tax?
-- The Dumbest Lawsuit Ever
-- 99 Problems, But Signing Athletes Ain't One

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There has been a massive influx of young starting quarterbacks into the NFL in the past three seasons. The 2011 draft produced six starters, 2012 produced five (with Nick Foles almost making it six) and 2013 has produced two. This means that 13 positions have turned over in three years -- an incredible development at the most critical position in football.

Quarterback has traditionally been the most difficult position to master quickly of any in football. The NFL features complex playbooks that need to be assimilated. The less challenging corners and safeties have been left behind at the college level -- these QBs are now throwing against the elite. The pacing of the game is more rapid than in college. Defenses are designed to be confusing, and players don't move exactly the same way they do in the college game -- this leads to interceptions. Coordination with an offensive line and wide receivers takes time.

Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon once told me, "When I was young, I often didn't know what I was seeing defensively. I succeeded with my feet and my arm".

This is why traditionally teams saw it as prudent to draft their next quarterback while they still had a capable starter. The young quarterback would learn by osmosis, learn from the older QB and not be pushed into a pressure cooker. A player like Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre and was more than ready when he became the starter, as was Tom Brady who had sat behind Drew Bledsoe.

Those days are gone. Salary-cap limitations make it difficult to afford a high young draft pick learning from a well paid starter. The fear that the younger QB would come in, make mistakes, be harshly judged as a bust by fans, press and teammates has been subordinated to the need to have the young quarterback start.

What is completely stunning and defies NFL tradition is the almost instantaneous success of these first time starters. The Colts' Andrew Luck, the Redskins Robert Griffin III and Seahawks third-rounder Russell Wilson performed at amazing levels of efficiency throughout last year. Colin Kaepernick stepped at mid-season for the 49ers and came close to leading them to a Super Bowl victory. How was this even possible?

These were situations that traditionally led the young QB to line up over guard instead of center, call inappropriate timeouts and throw ugly looking interceptions in droves. The common wisdom was that the young QB could take a defense by surprise once, but the League would soon learn his weaknesses and make him ineffective.

The Jets' Geno Smith and the Bills' E.J. Manuel both had credible first games Sunday as rookies. The old wisdom would have predicted a disaster for them.

The Bengals' Andy Dalton played well last year, and we will see improvement from the Panthers' Cam Newton, the Titans' Jake Locker, Miami's Ryan Tannehill and several others.

Part of the answer to the instant success is the adjustment of college offenses to a pro-type game plan, so that the transition is easier. Part of the answer is the escapability through scrambling of many of the quarterbacks. Part of it is better pro coaching. This group of quarterbacks will be looked at as pioneers who had success from the start.

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The Sept. 16th cover of Time magazine features Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel behind the headline "Time to Pay College Athletes." The article by Sean Gregory explores the explosive growth in college athletic revenues and proposes that athletes in major sports at major university be paid $30,000 a year. The current system is seriously antiquated and in need of reform and the whole concept of amateurism needs revisiting.

Had a modern day Rip Van Winkle gone to sleep in 1975, the year I began representing college players entering professional sports, and awakened today, he would simply not recognize the landscape surrounding college sports. A dramatic division of "have" and "have-not" programs has occurred.

Top-level universities with successful football and basketball programs have undergone exponential growth in revenue. College football now tracks as the second most popular American spectator sport behind the NFL. This has escalated television revenue wildly. The Pac-12 recently signed a 12-year, three-billiondollar television contract. I have written in previous columns of the unprecedented growth in college football and basketball contracts.

Television revenue is just the beginning of the cornucopia. Gate revenue and luxury box revenue combines with sponsorship dollars, social media projects, merchandising and memorabilia. Universities benefit. According to the USA Today, the University of Texas made $77.9 million in profit from its football program last year and the University of Michigan made $61.6 million. Television networks benefit, so do concessionaires, vendors, ticket brokers, local business, companies that produce branded products. And that leaves the athletes.

Certainly a scholarship has value, but graduation rates are abysmal. The NFL forces football players to remain on a campus three years after high school, the NBA, one year. So many of these student athletes are not on a campus because of their avid interest in education or college sports. Their scholarships can leave them at lower standards of living than their non-athletic peers. Many students receive allowances from their parents. Or they can work to supplement their income -- a difficult prospect for an athlete. Sports like football require extensive off-season training regimens. An athlete from a disadvantaged background has money needs the scholarship does not meet.

We currently have a system with athletes feeling exploited. They see their jersey sold in the student store, their likeness on a video game and do not share in the revenue. So they see no moral issue in taking money from agents or alums.

The major revenue schools are on the verge of breaking away into their own super division, which will do even better economically.

It is time to establish a system that supplements the income of athletes in major sports at major universities. There are Title IX challenges and many hurdles to overcome. The compensation for college football coaches has jumped 70 percent since 2006. Creative minds can construct a way so that the athletes who are the attraction are not left so far behind.

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NEW YORK -- China's biggest tennis star has officially arrived in the United States.

Li Na, the outspoken and charming subject of this excellent New York Times Magazine story, will become the first Chinese player to play in the U.S. Open's semifinals after she defeated Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

"I always try to be the first one," she said, when asked if she was excited about her accomplishment, breaking a smile. "Of course it was exciting, because [it's my] first time in [the semis] in [the] US Open. So I was really proud of myself, because [this] is the last Grand Slam [until] the end of the year, but I still [was] fighting a lot on the court to try [my] best."

The road to get there was a sloppy one. Na had eight double faults and 42 unforced errors, but quickly took control in the third set, topping Makarova 6-2 in 30 quick minutes (by comparison the second set took 72 minutes) for the win.

"The way I played today?" she said to open her press conference. "I'm not so happy."

For Na, who according to the Times is the third highest compensated female athlete behind only Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, the win over Makarova was just another one of her many firsts: She was the first Chinese star to break the top five in tennis and the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam singles (she won the French Open in 2011).

Her trip to the tournament was further than many -- something she said she has adjusted to as her career has progressed.

"I will try to be there four or five days earlier because [I] at least have the jet lag, so I need to use the time to change that," the 31-year-old said of her travel plans. "Maybe like even when I was young, I'd only need to take two days, now it's at least four or five days, because I want to prepare ... 100 percent for a tournament."

As for how well she rests without her husband, whom she has previously needled in public for his snoring, she replied: "Right now after I have a hotel sponsor, I think this is no problem at all. Sometimes I was feeling if he [isn't snoring], I was like what happened? What's going on?"

Na is likely to take on Serena Williams, who is matching up against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro later Tuesday.

She said she plans to spend the rest of the day relaxing.

"Then," she added. "Maybe tomorrow a little bit warming up and prepare for Friday."

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NEW YORK -- Coming into the fourth round of the U.S. Open, Roger Federer had enough good play to almost quiet the talk of his lackluster (by his standards) year so far: He won three matches easily, spending less than five hours on the court. At an impromptu autograph session on Tuesday morning, he seemed relaxed as he signed for dozens of eager fans waiting outside the practice court. But about three points into his match against 19th seed Tommy Robredo, the seventh-ranked Federer seemed anything but on his game, eventually losing in three sets in what seemed like a shocking meltdown.

Coming into the Open, whispers of the end of Federer's career possibly being near have grown (despite his denials and promises that his passion for the game is still high). He has slid in the rankings from No. 1 to No. 7. He seems to be constantly tinkering with his game, hoping to turn what’s been one of his worst seasons in history back upright. And during the three sets where he seemed to be chasing Robredo's shots and unable to get in any sort of rhythm, the talk continued to heat up.

The loss capped a season where Federer has exited the Australian Open and French Open early before a shocking second-round exit to the 116th-ranked player in the Wimbledon in June.


The talk of Federer's career being over, like most major athletes, has gone on and off for the last few years. And it's entirely possible that he will be able to take a few months to heal, get his rhythm back and quiet any talk when he resumes play.

At the press conference afterwards, Federer detailed to reporters his plan for improving what’s been a rough couple of months. And it would be silly to write him off yet. He's won 17 majors, the rain on Monday made for a strange and humid day at the US Open, and everyone has bad nights. “Confidence does all these things,” he said, after acknowledging he missed “so many opportunities” during the match. “[It] takes care of all the things you don’t usually think about. I think its been a difficult last three months my consistency is just not quite there yet on a daily basis, on a set by set point by point maybe that’s something that’s been difficult for me so maybe that was one of the reasons I lost there.”

Roberdo, who was 0-10 against Federer until Monday’s win, was asked by an announcer after the match what was so different about this time.

The Spaniard, grinning from ear to ear, answered: “I won.”

But for the fans who were watching, it was hard to wonder if it wasn’t something bigger than that.

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NEW YORK -- The U.S. Open is known especially for its fantastic upsets, but if the tennis world was looking at Sunday’s match between Serena Williams and 15th-ranked Sloane Stephens to mark one step closer to the proverbial changing of the guard in American women’s tennis, the top seed had other plans.

The hype around the two coming into the matchup has been building since Stephens slammed Williams in an ESPN The Magazine article in May. "She's not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia," Stephens told ESPN. "And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.

"Like, seriously. People should know,” Stephens continued. "They think she's so friendly and she's so this and she’s so that -- no, that's not reality! You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?"

Williams, in response, pointed out that she couldn't possibly be a mentor for someone she was still playing against. After all, Stephens topped her earlier this year in the Australian Open.

In the days leading up to the match, the two tried to downplay the friction. In a pre-match preview posted on the U.S. Open's official website, the two were perfectly complimentary of each other, noting that one was a champion one many times over and the other always came up big in big tournaments. But the budding rivalry between the two American women drew a packed house and the height of the chatter at Sunday’s Open.

"It definitely feels like something big, because [Stephens] is such a good opponent," Williams said after winning 6-4, 6-1, when asked about the attention. "How excited are we about the future of American tennis right?"

On the court, Stephens stayed with Williams for the first set, which took four trips to deuce and three set points, before Williams won 6-4 by capitalizing on small miscalculations of Stephens. Stephens held her own, battling back when it looked like Williams was ready to run away with it, using her incredible power (she was hitting serves that reportedly sped at 119 mph). The second set also started with a battle, but once Williams struck out to a 4-1 lead and changed the momentum from back and forth to one going her way, she never looked back.

With Stephens down 5-1 in the second set, she began to show her first signs of outward frustration. "Hopefully," John McEnroe commented on CBS as the crew began announcing the next time Williams would be taking the court, “Sloan learns something," as it was clear the match was over.

One hour and 28 minutes after the two took the court came the midcourt handshake and some quick polite words where Stephens seemed to have a smile all but frozen on for the TV cameras.

"I mean, obviously, she's No. 1in the world for a reason," Stephens told reporters afterwards. "I thought she played really well herself. Obviously it didn't go how I wanted. The second set got away from me for a little bit. All in all I thought I competed well. That's all you can do really."

While the match didn’t quite represent a handover (or for those who saw Williams' power anything close to it) in American tennis, it did represent what is quickly becoming another exciting age for women's tennis in America: An exciting 20-year-old who is incredibly likable and also is apt to get in trouble with what she calls her naivete at times (we’ll call it being 20 and having a microphone in front of you to air your grievances). A 31-year-old who seems to be still at the top of her game. And an audience that is more than willing to pay attention to a budding rivalry.

And though Stephens may have not quite played up to Williams' level in this tournament, she said she still is embracing the idea of being anointed the heir apparent to her reign in American tennis, though not taking anything for granted. This year, she hopes to make it into the top 10 (she's about 200 points away) and continue to work on her game.

"I think it's tough because there's a lot us," she said, of the idea that she is the next great American star. "I think just because I'm top 20 now there could be three other American girls in the top 20. It just depends.

"Right now I'm carrying the little torch," she added. "But I'm OK with it. I embrace it for now."

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