WTA changes rules affecting players returning from pregnancy

The women's tennis tour has approved rule changes that involve seedings after a return from pregnancy. Former No. 1 players Williams and Victoria Azarenka are recent mothers on the tour. (AP Photo/File)
Updated 18 December 2018
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WTA changes rules affecting players returning from pregnancy

ST. PETERSBURG, Flordia: The women’s tennis tour approved rule changes Monday that are meant to ensure players are not penalized after they return from pregnancy or an injury that causes a long absence.
The changes were prompted, in part, by the experiences of former No. 1 players Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, both of whom returned to competition after giving birth.
The WTA announced that players returning to the tour may use a special ranking for up to three years after the birth of a child, and the exemption can be used for seedings at big events.
Williams, who owns an Open-era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, was unseeded at this year’s French Open in her first major since the birth of her daughter — despite having won the previous major she played, the 2017 Australian Open. Williams was seeded 25th at Wimbledon and 17th at the US Open, and she reached the finals and lost at both of those majors.
Players who return from an injury that keeps them out of competition for a year or longer may use a special ranking in 12 tournaments. No player will be bumped from her earned seeded position.
“These changes,” WTA CEO and chairman Steve Simon said, “are designed to fully support players in their return to competition, while maintaining the highest standards of athletic competition and fairness.”
The tour also said it will ensure women at WTA tournaments “are not penalized or prohibited from wearing leggings or compression shorts without a skirt, dress or shorts over them.”
Williams wore a black bodysuit at the French Open, where she pulled out with an injury before the fourth round. Williams said she wore the compression suit because of a history of blood clots, including after childbirth.
This fall, the president of the French Tennis Federation said Williams could no longer wear the black bodysuit at the French Open.
Azarenka, a member of the WTA Players’ Council, said she wants to make sure the WTA is “the most progressive and inclusive association in sports.”
“Our players should feel comfortable and confident to take time away from the courts to have a family or recover from injury,” Azarenka said.


Pacquiao dominates in retaining title against Broner

Updated 20 January 2019
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Pacquiao dominates in retaining title against Broner

  • It's not known if Pacquiao’s dominating win over Adrien Broner gets him a rematch with Floyd Mayweather
  • There were no knockdowns, but Pacquiao landed the heavier punches

LAS VEGAS: Manny Pacquiao showed Saturday night he’s still got plenty of fight for a fighter on the wrong side of 40.
Whether Pacquiao’s dominating win over Adrien Broner gets him a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, though, is a question that will have to be answered another night.
With Mayweather watching from ringside, Pacquiao showed flashes of his old speed in winning a unanimous 12-round decision over Broner to easily defend his piece of the welterweight title. It was the 61st win of a remarkable career in which Pacquiao has won titles in eight weight classes.
Fighting for the first time at the age of 40, the senator from the Philippines won a lopsided decision that was never in doubt before a crowd that roared at every punch he landed. The decision was never in doubt, but Pacquiao pressed the fight into the later rounds as he tried unsuccessfully to score a knockout.
Two judges favored Pacquiao by a 116-112 score, while the third had it 117-111. The AP scored it a shutout 120-108 for Pacquiao.
There were no knockdowns, but Pacquiao landed the heavier punches — and lots of them. He caught Broner in the seventh and ninth rounds with big left hands that sent him backward, while Broner spent most of the fight looking for one big counter that never came.
Pacquiao, whose pro career stretches back 24 years, showed he still has the speed that carried him over his spectacular career. He also displayed some power, though he was never able to drop Broner.