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Serena Sweeps into Semis, Chalks up 100th U.S. Open Win

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Serena Williams claimed her 100th win at the U.S. Open in style on Tuesday.

This was after she dismantled her quarter-final opponent Wang Qiang 6-1 6-0 in a blistering 44-minute performance that ended any questions over a twisted ankle from the previous round.

“I never thought that I would get to 100,” Williams said after the match, reflecting on the two decades she’s spent playing at Flushing Meadows.

“It’s so special. I never want to let it go.”

The eighth-seeded American joins Chris Evert as the only two players to log at least 100 victories at the tournament. Williams is now only one behind Evert’s mark.

The 37-year-old Williams was dominant from the start, firing off 25 winners, compared to zero from 18th-seed Wang, and winning 90% of her first serve points.

During her fourth-round match on Sunday, Williams slipped and fell while running to the net and twisted her right ankle but said on Tuesday she was feeling “great”.

“It feels good,” Williams said of her performance. “This is how hard I’ve been working. It feels like … hard work pays off when that happens.”

Williams pumped her fist in celebration after firing off a forehand winner in front of a roaring crowd to end the contest.

“I am who I am. I’ve always been the person that goes out there and roars and screams and complains and cries and fights,” Williams said.

“I’m extremely passionate about what I do. Most people that love their jobs are passionate about what they do. That’s just me.”

She also praised the progress made in women’s tennis over her career, calling it the “premier sport for women”.

“It’s the best work in the world that a woman can do, in my mind. I’m a little biased obviously,” said the 37-year-old.

“I feel like we fought so hard for so many years for so many different things. I feel like we still obviously have a ways to go, but a lot of that fighting through decades has come through.”

Wang, who had not faced Williams before, was unable to save any of the five break point opportunities against her and said she simply could not stand up to the power from the 23-times Grand Slam champion.

“I cannot handle it. Just too much for me,” said Wang.

Williams faces fifth-seed Elina Svitolina, who she leads 4-1 in head-to-head, in the semi-finals.

“She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” said Williams when asked about the upcoming matchup. “She’s one of those players that does everything really well.

“So I have to do everything well, too.” (Reuters/NAN)

SPORTS

Bayelsa Unveils New Head Coaches for Professional Football Teams

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From Mike Tayese Yenagoa

Ahead of the 2024/2025 domestic football league season, the Bayelsa State Government has engaged new head coaches for its two premier league sides, Bayelsa United FC, and Bayelsa Queens FC.

The new tactician for Bayelsa United FC is Coach Isah Ladan Bosso, while Coach Ogbunda Whyte takes over as head coach of Bayelsa Queens, also known as the Prosperity Girls.

Making the presentation of the coaches at the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa on Tuesday, Governor Douye Diri, explained that the decision to engage the versatile coaches was informed by the need to improve the performance of the two Yenagoa-based sides.

Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor noted that the performance of the two teams, especially Bayelsa United, in recent times had not been quite impressive.

The deputy governor said the engagement of the highly-rated tacticians was part of efforts to restructure the coaching crews and management teams of the two sides.

According to the statement, Governor Diri called on the technical team to work closely with the new coaches to ensure that both Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens top their respective leagues in the 2024-2025 league seasons.

“We are trying to make these changes in our coaching crew for obvious reasons, because if you have done one thing once and get the same; you repeat it and the same result is coming your way, then you have to look inward.

“And the result of our looking inward shows that our performances for the last two seasons – 2022/2023, and 2023/2024 were not what our expectation was.

“You can only get good results when you change your tactics. So we have decided to make these changes. That is not in any way to condemn the two coaches that have worked with us.

“So we encourage our coaches that are here to work with the team; don’t sabotage their efforts because they have a target, and their target is that Bayelsa Queens must go continental, and this time around, win the African Women Championship. Bayelsa United must also go continental and for the first time bring the CAF Cup to us here”

In his opening remarks, the Honourable Commissioner for Sports, Dr. Daniel Igali, said recruitment and subsequent unveiling of the two coaches underscored the importance Bayelsa attaches to development of football in the state.

Dr. Igali emphasized that “last year the state had very high hopes, but our performance fell short of our standard, and in our view we have done everything we need to get it right in the forthcoming season.”

Coach Isah Ladan Bosso, who had previously coached Bayelsa United from 2012 to 2014, is currently also Chief Coach of the Nigerian Under-20 team.

Ladan Bosso had previously also coached several topflight teams in Nigeria, such as El-Kanemi Warriors of Maidugiri, Wikki Tourist of Bauchi, Kano Pillars, as well as Aba Warriors. He was also in charge of the Flying Eagles team between 2007 and 2009.

On the other hand, Coach Ogbunda Whyte, until his engagement by the Bayelsa State Government, was the head coach of Rivers Angels FC.

The highly-rated and experienced Rivers State-born tactician had had good stints in his coaching career with sides like Confluence Queens of Lokoja, and Ibom Angels FC, amongst others.

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SPORTS

King Charles Wishes England Well for Euro Final

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Britain’s King Charles congratulated England for their last-gasp 2-1 victory over Netherlands in the Euro 2024 semi-final on Wednesday.

He, however hoped there would be less drama in the final with England winning without needing late goals or penalties.

Substitute Ollie Watkins scored in the 91st minute to send England through to their second successive European Championship final after beating the Dutch in an exhilarating encounter.

With the match looking set for extra time, Watkins received a pass from fellow sub Cole Palmer and fired a sweet strike into the far corner.

“My wife and I join all our family in wishing you the warmest congratulations on reaching the final of the UEFA European Championship.

“We also send our very best wishes for Sunday’s match,” he said in a message to England coach Gareth Southgate and his players.

“If I may encourage you to secure victory before the need for any last minute wonder-goals or another penalties drama.

“I am sure the stresses on the nation’s collective heart rate and blood pressure would be greatly alleviated! Good luck, England.”

England, who had needed penalties to beat Switzerland in the quarter-finals and scored with all five of their spot kicks, face Spain in Sunday’s final, three years after losing to Italy in the 2021 decider.(Reuters/NAN)

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SPORTS

Tired Mbappe Asked to Go Off Against Portugal – Deschamps

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French striker and captain Kylian Mbappe, asked to be substituted during extra-time in the Euro 2024 quarter-final win over Portugal because he was tired, his coach Didier Deschamps said.

The usually prolific Mbappe has not been at his best during the Euros, scoring once from the penalty spot against Poland, but otherwise failing to convert chances and looking uncomfortable in a mask.

This was after he broke his nose in the first game.

Against Portugal in the quarter-finals on Friday night, he spent time on the ground and briefly removed his mask.

This was following a hard hit from the ball on the side of his face, before later asking to be taken off and missing the shootout.

“Yes, he’s always very honest with me and the team, when he feels he doesn’t have the capacity to accelerate…

“He’s not at his top form … he felt very tired indeed,” Deschamps said, referring to muscle fatigue and the nose issue.

“I saw him struggling during the first period of extra time. It was pointless (to leave him on).

“Kylian has always been honest with me and the group, so it was only natural to bring in some new blood.”

In his absence, Mbappe’s teammates did him proud, scoring a perfect five penalties to beat Portugal 5-3.(Reuters/NAN)

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