Billie Jean King Wins Lifetime Achievement Award At BBC Sports Personality Of The Year - UBITENNIS
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Billie Jean King Wins Lifetime Achievement Award At BBC Sports Personality Of The Year

The founder of the WTA Tour join the likes of footballer Pele and swimmer Michael Phelps in winning the award.

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Multiple grand slam champion Billie Jean King has been recognized for her contribution to sport by being awarded a lifetime achievement award at 2018 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year ceremony.

 

King was given the honour for her work both on and off the court. As a player, the American won a total of 39 grand slam titles over a 19-year period between 1961-1980. 12 of those titles were in singles competition. In total she won 129 singles trophies on the tour. As well as her sporting ability, King was an instrumental figure in the fight for equality in tennis and continues to be. In 1973 she won the infamous ‘battle of the sexes’ match against Bobby Riggs before going on to be the founder of the WTA Tour.

“Billie Jean is not just an inspiration for me, but I think for lots of athletes.” Former world No.1 Andy Murray said in a special tribute.
“She stood up for what she believed in. That certainly impacted future generations a lot.”

King is the first female player in history to have won more than $100,000 in prize money. Doing so in 1971. Overall, she won a total of $1,966,487 before retiring. King is the first woman to co-ed pro sports team (Philadelphia Freedoms, WorldTeamTennis 1974), first to be made commissioner in professional sports history (WorldTeamTennis, 1984) and was the first to have a major sports venue name in her honour (USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center).

“I like to thank everyone at the BBC for this lifetime achievement award and for including me in this historic evening.” An emotional King said during the trophy presentation.
“This part of the world (the UK) has played a major role in my life and in my career. I won my first national championship at the Irish Open in 1963 and I won my final Professional tour title in Birmingham in 1983.”

It was at The All England Club where the 75-year-old won more than half of her major titles. Claiming six trophies in singles, 10 in women’s doubles, and four in mixed doubles. In the history of the tournament, no other player has won more titles than King. Martina Navratilova also won a total of 20 titles at SW19.

“Next year I will be going to Wimbledon for the 59th year in a row. It is like a second home for me.” Said King.
“We never achieve success alone. I’ve been really fortunate to have the support of my partner, my family, coaches, friends, players and the people of my home town.”

Known for her campaigning for equal rights, King said she was first inspired to fight for the cause as a teenager growing up. Citing inspiration from Althea Gibson. The first black player to ever win a Wimbledon title back in 1957.

“At 12, I had an epiphany whilst sitting at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. Everybody who played played in white shoes, white clothes, played with white tennis balls and everybody that played was white. I asked myself ‘where is everybody else?’” She said.
“From that moment on, I committed myself to fight for equality and inclusion of all for the rest of my life.”

King is the third tennis player in history to win the BBC lifetime achievement award. Following in the footsteps of Navratilova (2003) and Bjorn Borg (2006).

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Former Finalist Marketa Vondrousova To Miss French Open Following Surgery

The Olympic silver medallist will miss a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Czech world No.35 Marketa Vondrousova has pulled out of next week’s French Open after undergoing what she describes as a ‘small surgery.’

 

Vondrousova, who reached the final at Roland Garros back in 2019, underwent a procedure on her left wrist after experiencing recurring pain. She decided to do so following a medical consultation and will be soon going through rehab. It will be the first Grand Slam event she has missed since the 2019 US Open which she also withdrew from due to a wrist injury.

“The last few weeks were not easy, I have been experiencing recurring pain in my wrist,” Vondrousova wrote in an Instagram post published on Monday. “After seeing a couple of doctors I decided to get this small surgery done to be able to play pain-free.”
“Staying positive through the recovery and can’t wait to be back on the court soon,”
she added.

The 22-year-old last played on Tour at the Stuttgart Open where she lost in the first round to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. So far this season she has achieved a win-loss record of 13-5 with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships as a qualifier. Vondrousova also reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and defeated Emma Raducanu in the Billie Jean Cup.

A former junior world No.1, Vondrousova has been ranked as high as 14th in the world. So far in her career, she has won just one WTA title which was back in 2017 at the Lugano Open in Switzerland. However, she has reached the final at another four events with the last being at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has scored a total of six wins over top 10 players.

Another player in doubt for the French Open is defending champion Barbora Krejcikova who hasn’t played a match on the Tour since February. The world No.2 has been sidelined from action due to an elbow injury but remains on the entry list for the Grand Slam which will begin on Sunday.

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday.

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Announces Pregnancy

Tennis’ power couple are set to become parents later this year.

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Former world No.3 Elina Svitoliva has announced that she is expecting a baby girl in October on social media.

 

The 27-year-old made the announcement on Sunday morning with a picture of her and her husband, French tennis star Gael Monfils. Known by some as the sports ‘power couple,’ the two tied the knot last July in Geneva ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games after first going public about their relationship in 2019. They even have their own Instagram account called ‘g.e.m.s. life’ which has more than 139,000 followers.

“With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October,” the couple wrote on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina/status/1525778313918177280

Svitolina hadn’t played on the Tour since losing to Heather Watson at the Miami Open in March after deciding to take time away from the sport due to events happening in her home country. Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine earlier this year which has claimed thousands of lives. Svitolina is one of the sport’s most outspoken players regarding the conflict. She has previously spoken out against the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes from Wimbledon by arguing that they should be allowed to participate if they condemn the actions of their home countries.

We don’t want them banned completely,” Svitolina told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.”

Prior to announcing her pregnancy, Svitolina has achieved a win-loss record of 5-8 on the Tour this season with her best runs being to the third round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals of a WTA event in Monterrey.

During her career, the Ukrainian has won 16 WTA titles and reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams during 2019.

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Bianca Andreescu reaches Rome quarterfinals after beating Petra Martic

The Canadian was able to get by her Croatian opponent in straight sets on Thursday afternoon in the Italian capital.

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Photo by Roberto Dell’Olivo

Bianca Andreescu is through to the quaterfinals of the Italian Open being played at the Foro Italico in Rome after beating Petra Martic in 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 45 minutes.

 

The Toronto native served four aces and won 76% of her first serve points in a match that was pretty straight forward for the world number 90 who makes her first quaterfinal this season.

During the first set both players did a good job holding serve and it was pretty tight until 4-4 when the Canadian was able to convert and served out the first set to take a 1-0 lead.

Andreescu was hungry for the early break in the second set and she got it but the Croat broke right back the following game to level the set at 2-2. She was then put on the defensive as the world number 47 started putting pressure on the Canadian but Andreescu was able to save two breakpoints before being able to hold serve to make it 3-3.

The next game Martic produced a poor service game and the 2019 US Open champ took full advantage, getting the break and that one break was enough for her to serve out the match.

Her reward for reaching the quarterfinals a date with the world number one Iga Swiatek who had no issues beating the Minsk native Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-1.

This will be their first ever meeting on the WTA Tour.

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