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.


Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

Updated 20 May 2019
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Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

  • Milwaukee’s MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggles to just 12 points
  • He then fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 36 points in the second overtime period Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors to a gritty 118-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors, who dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Milwaukee, clawed their way back to 2-1 in front of home fans and will try to level the set when they host game four on Tuesday.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 16 for the Raptors, who got off to a quick start and led much of the night but had to battle to put the Bucks away.
“We just played a lot tougher,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding, we were physical. We were ready to play tonight.”
Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled to just 12 points on five-of-16 shooting.
Antetokounmpo’s 23 rebounds helped the Bucks stay in touch, but he didn’t reach double figures in points until the middle of the fourth quarter and he produced eight of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers.
Antetokounmpo fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period.
Moments later the Bucks managed to edge ahead 105-103 — taking the lead for the first time since Antetokounmpo scored the game’s opening basket — but Leonard and the Raptors roared back.
Leonard’s steal and dunk put Toronto ahead 112-109 and his driving bank shot gave Toronto a 114-110 lead with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Leonard played a key role in limiting Antetokounmpo and Nurse said his defensive play was “probably the biggest key of the game.”
“Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and break aways,” Nurse said.
“Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while and any time you can get a steal and a break out it’s a huge momentum play.”
Toronto had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let a 96-91 lead slip away in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton’s putback basket from his own miss with 2.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
The Raptors led 103-99 with 1:29 remaining in the first extra session.
But Malcolm Brogdon floated in a shot and George Hill drained two free throws to tie it before Leonard’s jump shot fell short.
The Raptors overcame a slow night from Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 6:12 left in the fourth.
Although Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, some grimaces from the Raptors star sparked concerns he might be injured.
“I’m feeling all right,” he said. “This is playoff basketball. Everybody’s hurting, you just have to keep fighting.”
Hill led the Bucks with 24 points and fellow reserve Brogdon added 20. Center Brook Lopez led the Bucks starters with 16 points.
“I feel like we gave ourselves several chances,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.
“When you have opportunities you’ve got to make them and we didn’t quite make enough of our good ones. I think we’ll be better in game four, Giannis, everybody.”