April 23, 2018

Professional tennis player Maria Sharapova tested positive for a banned substance at Australian Open

The Court of Arbitration for Sport cut nine months off the suspension imposed on Maria Sharapova, who tested positive for the banned heart medication Meldonium at the Australian Open in January 2016.

Is justice being served by reducing the penalty by nine months?

 

For Williams, tie with Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam Wins Put on Hold

If you were hoping for No. 1 ranked and defending Australian Open champion, Serena Williams, to tie Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 tennis Grand Slams with a repeat win at the Australian Open 2016, you are probably sorely disappointed. Serena lost to Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

The Australian Open 2016 marked Serena Williams’ first competitive major tournament in four months.

Just like the US OPEN 2015, the pressure was on Serena Williams. There is an expectation with every tournament that Serena will rack up the wins, as she steamrolls her opponents; and Serena feels it.

"I mean, every time I walk in this room, everyone expects me to win every single match, every single day of my life," Serena Williams stated in her post-match news conference. "As much as I would like to be a robot, I'm not. I try to."

As straight to the point that Serena may have been with the media, she showed every bit of good sportsmanship towards Angelique Kerber.

"You did so well, let me be the first to congratulate you," Williams said on the court. "You truly played so well in the moment."

Kerber kept her wits about her and her nerves in check throughout the tournament. It could have been lights out in the first round when she met Japan’s Misaki Doi. However, Kerber saved a match point to advance.

Reflecting on the first round, Kerber jokingly said to the crowd assembled at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, “I was with one leg in the plane for Germany.”

Not only did Kerber handle Doi to advance, she sailed past Victoria Azarenka, a former world No. 1, in the quarterfinals 6-3, 7-5.

“I take my chance to be here in the final and play against Serena,” Kerber said. “My dream come true tonight, on this night. My whole life I was working so hard and now I can say that I’m a Grand Slam champion… it sounds so crazy.”

“I’m really enjoying this moment right now,” Kerber said regarding playing in her first major final. “This is the best two weeks of my life, my career. I had goosebumps when I was playing on the court."

Kerber is the first German woman to win the Australian Open since Graf’s win in 1994, and she acknowledged receiving a congratulatory message from Graf.

In acknowledging Serena Williams, Kerber said: "You are really an inspiration for so many people, so many young tennis players. You created history, you are a champion, you are a really an unbelievably great person, so congratulations for everything you did already."

It was graciousness all the way around, at the Australian Open 2016.

Serena Williams and Madison Keys move on to second round

On Tuesday, No. 8 seeded Venus Williams lost her first round match to upstart Johanna Konta of Great Britain 6-4, 6-2, at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Not many people saw this coming, least of all Venus Williams because she was one of the favorites coming into the Australian Open. After all, Venus reached the Australian Open quarterfinals last year and she won three titles last year: 2015 ASB Classic; Wuhan Open, and the 2015 WTA Elite Trophy.

Not to mention that Venus was seeded inside the top 8 at a major for the first time since the 2011 Australian Open, she had played the Australian Open 16 times prior, and she was playing an opponent making her Australian Open debut.

The pair only met once and that was last fall in Wuhan, China. Venus prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in a match that required a staggering 2 hours, 39 minutes.

Additionally, Venus had won 47 WTA singles titles, compared to zero for Konta.

Konta told the media on the court after the upset that when she realized that Venus Williams was her first round opponent, she thought to herself, "I just hope I stay out there more than an hour."

Perhaps, disturbed at her performance against Konta, Venus Williams skipped her post-match news conference. Venus does suffer from the effects of Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune condition that leaves her prematurely tired and could have affected her execution.

Nonetheless, since the post-match press conference is mandatory for players, Venus faces a fine up to $20,000. It should be noted that Venus also skipped the post-match press conference at the 2015 French Open and was fined $3,000 USD, after losing to fellow American Sloan Stephens.

Venus, who will be 36-years-old in June, was the oldest woman in the draw and it was only the eighth time in 62 Grand Slam appearances that she lost her opening match.

Meanwhile, her younger sister, defending Australian Open champion and No. 1 seed, Serena Williams, won her opening round against Italian Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5. This was Serena’s first competitive match in four months.

Ranking at No. 15, fellow American, Madison Keys, overcame some nerves in a first-set tiebreaker and defeated Kazakhstani Zarina Diyas 7-6 (5), 6-1 in another bottom-half match. Keys, a 20-year-old Floridian, was a semifinalist at last year's Australian Open. She lost to Serena Williams in the semis.

 

 

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