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Welcome back, Serena: Williams in WTA Top 10 for first time as mother



Though she didn’t play last week, Serena Williams moved back into the Top 10 for the first time since becoming a mom in the latest WTA rankings, released Monday morning.

When Caroline Wozniacki, No. 10 in last week’s rankings, pulled out of the Qatar Total Open in Doha due to illness, it ensured she would drop out of the Top 10. Serena, who was No. 11, took Wozniacki’s spot.

Serena’s return to the Top 10 is noteworthy given that she’s only played eight tournaments since returning to the game full time, and 3,270 of her 3,406 ranking points—96 percent—have come from just four tournaments: the Grand Slams. She earned 240 points for reaching the fourth round of the French Open, 1,300 points for reaching the Wimbledon final, 1,300 points for reaching the US Open final and 430 points for reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals.

Serena boasts a 19-3 record at the Grand Slams since coming back, but is just 3-4 at all other events.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion’s next scheduled tournament is the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which is where she made her return to WTA competition as a mother 11 months ago.

“From the first tournament back I was thinking I should win, but that’s not practical,” Serena said during her run in Melbourne, when she was 10 months into her comeback. “I know there’s a lot of things that I need to do, a lot of things I need to do to get better. Maybe I just need more matches. As close as I want to say that I’m there, I know that there’s a lot more that I need to do to get there.

“It’s 10 months, soon to be 11 months, soon it will be 12 months—it just takes time.”

She’ll be trying to win in Indian Wells for the third time in her career, having won it in 1999 and 2001.

Serena is now the first mom to reach the Top 10 since Kim Clijsters on October 10, 2011.

As for Serena, her last day in the Top 10 was on July 10, 2017.

It’s been almost 20 years since Serena first broke into the Top 10, on April 5, 1999. It came as a result of her breakthrough run to the final of Miami, which she would lose to sister Venus.

The former No. 1, who will begin her 793rd career week in the Top 10 on Monday, has one goal, though.

“The big picture for me is always winning. I’m not going to lie about that. It hasn’t happened yet, but I feel like it’s going to happen. Just keep taking it one match at a time, just keep soldiering on, I guess.”

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UFC middleweight interim champion, Israel Adesanya causes stir at Lagos airport



Sixteen years after taking his martial arts skills to New Zealand, Nigerian-born current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) interim middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya stepped his feet on his fatherland yesterday.

The arrival of Adesanya, who defeated America’s Kelvin Gastelum during a UFC 236 fight in Atlanta, USA a few weeks ago, caused a major stir at the Murtala Mohammed International airport yesterday afternoon as immigration officers and other security personnel at the airport scrambled to shake his hand.

After a brief stay at the airport, Adesanya and his accompanying team zoomed off to an unknown destination in Lagos.

His father, Femi Adesanya told The Guardian in a telephone chat yesterday that Last Stylebender, as Israel Adesanya is fondly called, was in Nigeria to feel the environment, which he left about 16 years ago.

“Israel came home just to feel the environment, eat the local food and meet with the people. The visit is just like a holiday for him,” the senior Adesanya revealed from his base in New Zealand.

Adesanya’s victory at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, earned him the interim middleweight championship belt in one of the best title fights ever seen in combat sports history.

The Nigerian won via unanimous decision. He moved to New Zealand when he was 13.

Adesanya had defeated Brazil’s Anderson Silva in February at UFC 234 contest in Melbourne, Australia, but his battle against Gastelum, a Mexican fighter in Atlanta, was fascinating.

It was not clear yesterday if Adesanya will appear at any public function, but a source close to the fighter hinted he might hold a meeting with Ogun State Governor Ibekunle Amusan before he returns to New Zealand. He hails from Odogbolu, Ogun State.

Adesanya trained in taekwondo briefly during his primary school days at Opebi, Lagos before he relocated to New Zealand at the age of 13.

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Van Dijk Crowned EPL Player Of The Season



Liverpool defender, Virgil van Dijk has been crowned the Premier League’s Player of the Season, just days after he won PFA Players’ Player of the season.

The Holland international, 27, who has been Liverpool’s key player in the 2018-19 Premier League campaign is now the third defender to win the trophy after Nemanja Vidic and Vincent Kompany. 

The winner was decided by a mixture of votes from fans, the captains of the 20 Premier League clubs and a panel of football experts.

Van Dijk who was signed from Southampton in a world record £75m deal for a defender in 2017, has four Premier League goals this season has also helped Liverpool keep 20 clean sheets in 37 games so far.

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Bayern Munich star, David Alaba speaks on how refusal to pay bribe stopped him from playing for Nigeria



David Alaba, Bayern Munich star, has accused coaches of the Golden Eaglets of denying him the opportunity to join the Nigerian squad at the 2007 FIFA World Cup in South Korea because he refused to pay bribe.

The late Yemi Tella was in charge of the Eaglets at the time.

In an interview with All Nigeria Soccer,  Alaba called the Nigeria U-17 coaches, “jokers” and vowed not to have anything to do with any of them in future.

He claimed to have trained with Palanga midfielder, Haruna Lukman Abdulkarim, UB Conquense forward, Macauley Chrisantus and Slovan Bratislava’s midfielder, Rabiu Ibrahim ahead of the 2007 World Cup.

The 26-year-old was eligible to represent Nigeria but he switched to Austria, his country of birth, after that encounter.

Alaba, who was born in Vienna, capital of Austria, has a Filipino mother and Nigerian father.

Alaba has earned 68 caps for Austria, scoring 13 goals and represented the country at the 2016 European Championship.

On September 9, 2007, the late Tella led a team of youngsters to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

That was the third time Nigeria had that title after previous wins in 1985 in China and 1993 in Japan.

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