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Australian Open: Serena leaves news conference in tears after Naomi loss



Serena Williams left her Australian Open news conference in tears after her semi-final defeat by Naomi Osaka.

The American great saw her latest bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title ended by Japan’s three-time major champion Osaka, who won 6-3 6-4.

She gave the crowd inside Rod Laver Arena a long wave goodbye with her hand over her heart, leading to questions over the 39-year-old’s future.

She responded, “I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone.”

Williams became tearful when asked a further question about her unforced errors against Osaka.

“I don’t know. I’m done,” she said, before leaving the room.

Williams thanked her fans in a post on Instagram shortly after the match.

“Today was not ideal outcome or performance but it happens. I am so honoured to be able to play in front of you all,” she wrote.

“Your support, your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today.

“I am forever in debt and grateful to each and every single one of you.”

Williams has been aiming to equal Margaret Court’s major record since her return from maternity leave in 2018.

Her 23 Grand Slam titles is the most by any player in the Open Era, with 13 of Court’s titles coming before the tour became fully professional.

Since her return, Williams has reached four Grand Slam finals but lost them all, including to Osaka at the 2018 US Open.

It is the first time in 18 years that Williams has lost an Australian Open semi-final.

It is also her first loss against a top five opponent at a hard court Grand Slam since she was beaten by Jelena Jankovic in the Australian Open last 16 in 2008.

-BBC Sport

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Tokyo2020: Okagbare, Nwokocha Qualify For 100m Semi Final



For the very first time in nine years, two Nigerian athletes will be running in the semifinals of the women’s 100m after Blessing Okagbare and Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha qualified from their respective heats Friday in Tokyo, Japan, Newspremises reports.


Nwokocha had to run a new personal best of 11.00 seconds to secure her qualification to the semifinals in her debut at the Games.


The 20 year old has also moved into fifth in the Nigeria all-time list behind Okagbare (10.79), Glory Alozie (10.90) Mary Onyali (10.97) and Damola Osayomi (10.99).


The home-based athlete who ran 11.09 seconds to secure her qualification for the Olympics in March at the MOC Grand Prix in Lagos will however need to make further history by breaking the 11 seconds barrier as the fifth Nigerian woman to do so to stand a chance of joining Onyali and Okagbare as debutants who ran all the way to the final of the event.


She has been drawn to run from lane nine in the third semifinal heat with the fastest woman alive, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, Daryl Neita of Great Britain, Teahna Daniels of the USA and fellow African, Muriel Ahoure of Ivory Coast.


While Nwokocha qualified for her first semifinal, Okagbare will be running in her third since she made her debut in the event at the 2012 Olympics in London. The 32 year old ran 11.05 seconds to win her first round heat.


She has been drawn in the first semifinal heat alongside two heavyweights of the event, defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica who ran 10.82 seconds to win her first round heat and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 200m world champion two years ago in Doha, Qatar who ran 11.07 seconds to come second in her first round heat.


The 2008 Beijing Olympics Long Jump silver medallist will be in action at exactly 11.15 am Nigerian time on Saturday.

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No Golden Slam: Djokovic In Shock Olympics Semifinal Defeat, As Zverev Wins



The highest-ranked tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic has been eliminated in the semi-final of the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


Djokovic who lost to Alexander Zverev of Germany 1-6, 3-6, 6-1, was attempting to be the first man to achieve the Golden Slam by winning all four major Grand Slams and Olympics Gold in the same year.


The unplayable Serb had earlier won the Australian Open, Rolland Garros and recently the Wimbledon, with only the Olympics Gold and US Open titles to spare.


Only the legendary Steffi Graf has achieved the Golden Slam, having won all four major Grand Slams as well as the Olympics Gold in Seoul ’88.


Djokovic will play for bronze against Carreno Busta, who was defeated 6-3 6-3 by Karen Khachanov (Zverev’s opponent in the final).

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10 Nigerian athletes banned from Tokyo Olympics



Ten athletes from Nigeria among 18 athletes banned from participating in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
While the names of the affected athletes were not released, a statement from the Athletics Integrity Unit indicated that a total of 18 athletes had been declared ineligible, with Nigeria being the most affected.
According to the AIU, the 10 athletes from Nigeria failed the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15.
It stated, “Under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.
“Among other things, the Rule sets out minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
“The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event. Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.
“For the year 2021, the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations are: Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

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