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Sun appears to be setting on Giants’ season, Venus Williams’ career

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Venus Williams has had a tremendous career

It was here in the Big Apple 60 years ago that Chuck Dressen, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, declared in a statement that some English teachers defended on the grounds a team is a collective noun, “The Giants is dead.”

The New York Giants weren’t — coming back from a 13½-game August deficit to force a playoff with the Dodgers, which resulted in the “Shot Heard ’Round the World,” by Bobby Thomson.

The San Francisco Giants are.

Not that anyone back here cares.

A bigger San Francisco story in the New York Post is the former payroll manager of the Giants — your defending World Series champions, but best hang on to that for a while, because the Giants aren’t hanging on to win another championship — is accused of embezzling $1.5 million from the accounts of players.

No comments please about certain members of the team “stealing” money the way they’ve been playing.

If you didn’t believe the dream is finished for this year, well, the designation for assignment of Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada on Wednesday ought to persuade any and all that nothing magical is going to happen in 2011 as it did in 2010.

The Boys of October this time will have to be playing for Stanford or Cal, or the Niners or Raiders, or — and wasn’t that Tiger Woods announcement perfectly timed? — at CordeValle in the Frys.com Open. Fore!

In another Open, the U.S. tennis Open going on in New York, they had a jolt of another sort Wednesday, a negative one.

Venus Williams suddenly withdrew, just before she was to face Sabine Lisicki in a second-round match because of what first was announced as an “unspecified illness,” then later described as an autoimmune condition which affects her energy level and causes joint pain, Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Venus is 31, and the amazing career which began at age 14 in a match of the Bank of the West Classic at the Oakland Coliseum in October 1994, may be at an end.

She and younger sister Serena have combined for 32 Grand Slam championships, singles and doubles. Change is a constant in our games, ballplayers being dropped, athletes getting injured, but the Venus disclosure comes out of backcourt. Who knew?

“I enjoyed playing my first match here,” said Venus, a winner Monday night at the Open, “and I wish I could continue, but right now, I am unable to. I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon.”

Phil Mickelson, the golfer, was diagnosed a year ago with psoriatic arthritis, also an immune disorder which causes joint pain. With the help of drug treatment, he has been able to continue playing and tied for second in the British Open a month and a half ago.

Maybe Venus will be able to return to a level which will keep her among the game’s best. Or maybe not.

It’s the unknown that makes sport both so intriguing and confusing. Favorites fall. Underdogs triumph. Nobody expected the Giants to win it all last year. Virtually everybody expected the Giants to win at least the division this year.

Venus isn’t winning the Open this year. Or, now, may never again.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.

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