In this week’s news: Maria Sharapova won her first tour title since her drug ban at the Tiajin Open – but has she won back her good reputation? Another blow to British sport surfaced in the form of Rob Greenwood, para-swimming coach; Serena Williams inspired mums everywhere with her quick-fire plan to return to the court and former badminton star, Gail Emms, opened up about the institutionalisation of sporting careers.
Plus, couples who compete in the same sports have shown how support at home can result in wins in the ring (or court), England’s Rugby League announced a solid squad ahead of the World Cup, and top teams from the WSL have made an impact in the Champions League.
Former world number 1, Maria Sharapova, is back on form after winning the tour title in the Tiajin Open – her first since returning to the game in April after a 15-month ban.
The Russian, who has pulled her ranking back up to 57th, beat 19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) in straight sets the at the Tiajin Open. This is her first title win since winning the Italian Open in May 2015.
The 30-year-old still has a long way to go to get back to her best form that saw her ranked number one in the world. She next faces the Kremlin tour on home soil in Moscow, Russia.
Sharapova may have an even longer road to winning back the respect of some of her fellow WTA professionals after testing positive for the drug Meldonium. She has been branded a “cheater” by fellow tennis player Eugenie Bouchard.
Her next opponent is Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova who currently holds a WTA ranking of 26.
Elsewhere a report into allegations of bullying found former British para-swimming coach, Rob Greenwood, had been engaged in intimidating and ‘unacceptable’ behaviour towards the swimmers.
It is understood many athletes became visibly distressed while recounting their experiences under Greenwood.
The report highlighted incidents where he disclosed an athlete’s medical information, banned swimmers from leaving hotels as “punishment”, used derogatory terms owing to the swimmers’ disabilities, asked an athlete to do something they were unable to do due to their disability, and left them alone and unsupervised while abroad or on a training camp.
Chairman of British Swimming, Maurice Williams said the para-athletes “have been subjected to unacceptable treatment”.
New mum, Serena Williams, is targeting the Australian Open as her comeback into professional tennis just four months after giving birth to baby girl, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
The American star last competed at the Australian open earlier this year while being eight weeks pregnant. She shocked fans by winning the Grand Slam during what many find a time of huge change and instability in their bodies.
Due to her pregnancy, the 36-year-old mum has not competed since but is set to make a return to the court in January 2018. She will have a new fan while on the hardcourts this time round in the form of her baby girl, who was named after her father, Alexis Ohanian.
US Open squash champions Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb are the first husband and wife in sporting history to win the same major singles title on the same day.
El Tayeb, 24, beat Raneem El Welily 3-2 in the women’s final on Saturday.
A few hours later, Farag, 25, beat Mohamed El Shorbagy 3-0 in the men’s final.
They were the first major World Series titles for the Egyptian couple, who got married last year. While this is the first time a married couple have won the same singles titles on the same day, there have been instances of other sporting couples winning titles together.
British badminton players Gabby and Chris Adcock won mixed doubles gold together at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and at the 2017 European Badminton Championships.
At Rio last year, hockey players Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh became the first married couple to win Olympic gold together for Britain since sailors Cyril and Dorothy Wright in 1920.
Also, Jason and Laura Kenny, two of Britain’s most successful Olympians, won gold on the same day (16 August 2016) in Rio when Laura won the omnium and Jason won the keirin final. They married the following month.
The UK’s only boxing couple, Nathan McIntosh and Nina Bradley train and live together, competing in the same shows.
McIntosh said: “I was ready to stop boxing but when I met you [Nina], it gave me the drive to carry on.
“Nina needed to improve on some of her skills. She needed to add to her arsenal so she thought she’d come and see if I could help her improve.”
The couple met at the gym. McIntosh said he would propose to Bradley once he won the British title which would make them the first married boxing couple.
Former Olympic Medallist and World Champion, Gail Emms,40, opens up about her tough transition since retiring from the sport.
In a hope to help others who struggle with the transition from a sporting career into something else or have been forced out due to funding cuts, the former badminton champion has opened up to the media.
“I lost my identity in Badminton. I lost me.
“In my head, I’m great, I’m awesome. It’s that ego we have in sport. But, in real life, you keep getting rejected and you think: ‘I know where I stood in the badminton world rankings but I don’t know where I rate in real life.”
Becoming institutionalised by the sport left her feeling lost and wondering if she regretted embarking on her badminton career in the first place. So is she finding satisfaction in her new venture?
“Yes and no. I’ve realised no organisation is going to employ me because it’s a big risk. But I’m working on something which can benefit athletes so that when their careers are over they say: ‘That was a great part of my life but it doesn’t define me for ever. I know who I am outside of sport and I feel good.’ I think I’ve got a way of helping them do that. The main thing is I don’t want people to be in my situation. I lost my identity in badminton. I lost me. But slowly I’ve found who I am. I’m beginning to find a new way forward.”
Women’s Rugby League World Cup: England have named 10 Bradford Bulls players in their 23-strong squad for the Women’s Rugby League World Cup.
The Bulls beat Featherstone in the inaugural Women’s Super League Grand Final and also won the domestic cup.
England are in the same group as Papua New Guinea Orchids, Australian Jillaroos and The Cook Islands.
For the first time, the women’s final will be played as the curtain-raiser to the men’s final, at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on 2 December.
England Women’s squad:
Amy Hardcastle (Bradford Bulls), Andrea Dobson (Featherstone Rovers), Beth Sutcliffe, Charlotte Booth, Claire Garner (all Bradford Bulls), Danielle Bound (Thatto Heath St Helens), Danika Priim (Bradford Bulls), Emily Rudge (Thatto Heath St Helens), Emma Slowe (Featherstone Rovers), Faye Gaskin, Jenny Welsby(both Thatto Heath St Helens), Jessica Courtman (Bradford Bulls), Jodie Cunningham (Thatto Heath St Helens), Katherine Hepworth(Castleford Tigers), Kayleigh Bulman (Featherstone Rovers), Kirsty Moroney, Lois Forsell (both Bradford Bulls), Rachel Thompson(Thatto Heath St Helens), Rhiannon Marshall, Sarah Dunn (both Featherstone Rovers), Shona Hoyle, Stacey White (both Bradford Bulls), Tara-Jane Stanley (Thatto Heath St Helens).
Actress Emma Stone has described playing former tennis legend, Billie Jean King, ‘empowering’.
Stone personifies King in movie drama, Battle of the Sexes, which retells the historical moment for women’s sport when King beat sexist tennis star, Bobby Riggs, 6-4 6-3 6-3.
His campaign was fraught with sexist remarks include the one which may have goaded King into the famous game dubbed “Battle of the Sexes”. He exclaimed:
“Billie Jean King is one of the all-time greats. She’s a superstar. She’s ready for the big one. But she doesn’t stand a chance against me.”
Speaking to Sportswomen at the European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, Stone said: “[Playing King] was very daunting at first and then it became so empowering and exciting.
Steve Carrell plays Riggs in the film set in 1972, which is set to be released 24 November.
Great Britain’s Claudia Fragapane won a bronze medal in the floor at the World Gymnastics Championships in Montreal on Sunday.
The 19 year-old scored 13.933 behind Japan’s winner, Mai Murakami (14.233), and Jade Carey of the USA (14.2).
“It’s absolutely incredible, I can’t believe I have a bronze medal round my neck,” Fragapane – who won four 2014 Commonwealth golds – told BBC Sport.
In football news:
Glasgow City fell short of the Champions League last 16 in a shock defeat by Kazakhstan side, BIIK Kazygurt on away goals despite beating them 4-1 at Petershill Park last week.
Manchester City, however, joined Chelsea’s jubilation in securing a place in the last 16 on Thursday by beating Austria’s St Pollen team 6-0 (agg). They followed Chelsea’s winning form who overcame Bayern Munich the day before on away goals.
This means for the first time since the 2013/14 season, there are two English sides in the Champions League last 16.