Demetrius Andrade beats Liam Williams to retain WBO world middleweight title


The fight was delayed a year because of Covid-19 restrictions

Demetrius Andrade defended his WBO world middleweight title by unanimous decision despite a spirited challenge from Liam Williams in Hollywood.

It was a nightmare start for the Welshman who hit the canvas in round two, but took the fight the distance.

The undefeated American used his experience and fought in eye-catching bursts, while Williams struggled to land his shots.

The judges scored the bout 118-109, 118-109 and 116-111.

There had been bad blood in the build-up to the main event, with 33-year-old Andrade unimpressed with the calibre of his mandatory opponent.

Williams, 28, had twice lost to Liam Smith in 2017 before notching up seven successive wins to earn his shot at the title.

Andrade showed little respect, but as the final bell rang at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, he certainly knew he had been in a fight.

Andrade, who now has a perfect record of 30 victories with no defeats, came out with serious intent and it looked like it was to be a short night’s work.

He showed speed, power and accuracy, with Williams doing well to survive the first round after taking some heavy shots.

As he began to regain some composure in the second, Williams was floored by a right-left combination which saw him take every available second of the count to steady himself.

To Williams’ credit, he kept chipping away and the champion looked tired at times, especially in the ninth as he clung on to see out the round.

But Williams, who was bidding to become Wales’ 13th world boxing champion, could not make him pay, and was left to rue his inaccuracy as he ran out of time.



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Serena Williams withdraws from Miami Open


Serena Williams has lost four Grand Slam finals since her return to the tour in 2018

Serena Williams has pulled out of this week’s Miami Open after having oral surgery.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion was knocked out of the Australian Open semi-finals by Naomi Osaka in January.

“I am disappointed to withdraw,” said 39-year-old Williams, who has won the Miami Open eight times.

“Miami is a special tournament for me because it’s my home and I am sad I won’t be able to see the incredible fans this year.”

The men’s draw has already been depleted by the withdrawals of world number one Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and world number four Dominic Thiem.

It gets under way on Monday.

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NFL free agency news 2021: Trent Williams San Francisco 49ers contract is petty AF


In the lavish land of ridiculously enormous American football contracts, it’s sometimes the smallest differences that are most important.

The best offensive lineman in NFL free agency isn’t going anywhere.

Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams agreed to a monster six-year, $177 million (AUD) deal to stay with the San Francisco 49ers, ESPN reported Thursday.

The deal, which includes $71 million in guaranteed money, makes Williams the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. But only just.

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The 32-year-old negotiated his contract so that it’s average annual value (AAV) was $29.51 million (AUD), marginally better than the $29.5 million AAV of the contract Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari signed late last year.

Bakhtiari good-naturedly called the move “petty as f***”.

Williams had other suitors, including the Chiefs and the Bears, but stayed with the team he started 14 games for in 2020.

Williams was traded to San Francisco during the 2020 NFL Draft after a messy divorce from the then-Washington Redskins, who placed him on the non-football injury list in 2019 after a cancer diagnosis and refused to pay the rest of his salary. Williams stated his distrust of the team and their medical staff led to the trade request.

He returned to form in 2020, appearing in his eighth Pro Bowl and finishing as the highest-graded left tackle by PFF. His reward is a deal that will take him into his age-38 season.

The 49ers also signed former Falcons centre Alex Mack, according to NFL Network, further bolstering their offensive line with another Pro Bowler.

— New York Post

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Dionne Warwick has this message for Wendy Williams



Dionne Warwick can’t be bothered by naysayers — including Wendy Williams — who don’t believe she runs her popular Twitter account.

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Former MRP member declares Williams would’ve escaped suspension in previous years


Jimmy Bartel believes Zac Williams would’ve only been handed a fine five years ago for the head-high bump on Hunter Clark which saw him suspended for Round 1.

Carlton’s high-prized recruit collected the St Kilda midfielder high in the opening seconds of their AAMI Community Series clash last Thursday night, with the Blues failing to have an initial one-game suspension overturned at the AFL Tribunal.

Bartel, who sat on the match review panel in 2017, said it was clear the AFL under match review officer Michael Christian have been cracking down on head-high hits in recent seasons.

He believes that had the same incident occurred when he was sitting on the now defunct panel, Williams would’ve escaped suspension.

“In recent years (match review officer) Michael Christian and the AFL have started saying they are going to start elevating (the gradings) so there were a different set of rules (compared to previous years),” he said on Sportsday.

“The other thing is about the actual force, when (Hunter Clark) did the concussion test and how that came out. If Hunter Clark got up and kept playing, you’re starting to look at a low (grading).

“It’s still a football act so it puts him in that careless category, so he probably would have been fined five years ago.

“But now it’s been clear that these (type of incidents) are starting to be elevated.”

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Carlton Blues not worried about covering for Zac Williams in round one, sayd Patrick Cripps


Carlton’s increased depth will allow them to better cover for missing star recruit Zac Williams, according to Patrick Cripps.

And the Blues co-captain has pointed to Paddy Dow as the man to help stand in Williams’ place.

The Blueschallenged Williams’ one-match ban for a late bump on Saint Hunter Clark at the tribunal on Tuesday, but were unsuccessful.

It means that the former Giant, who has impressed in his opening two pre-season hit outs, won’t make his debut for Carlton in the season opener against Richmond.

Paddy Dow is in good form, according to his captain.Credit:Getty Images

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Carlton Blues challenge Zac Williams suspension, Bachar Houli set to miss round one for Richmond Tigers


Star midfielder Dion Prestia (hamstring) is also a reasonable chance to return for the blockbuster against the Blues, who will have most of their best 22 available, barring some longer-term absentees. But they face a decision on whether to include three players who have had limited or no match-play over the past few weeks and on the choice of player to replace suspended recruit Zac Williams, if their appeal at the tribunal is unsuccessful.

Eddie Betts played in the VFL practice game on Friday, having overcome a calf that he tweaked in January and will be available, as will Levi Casboult (jarred knee) and Mitch McGovern (minor hamstring).

The Blues, however, may be reluctant to select all three of those players, bearing in mind that Casboult and McGovern have not played in either of the pre-season games against opposition, participating only in intra-club match simulations before their injuries.

Michael Gibbons is one of the main chances to take Williams’ position, having performed well in the VFL practice match in a hybrid midfield, high-forward role that is somewhat similar to that of Williams.

The Blues cannot consider Caleb Marchbank (calf), Tom de Koning (back), Nick Newman (knee) and talented key forward Charlie Curnow, who is in recovery from a long-term knee injury.

Kangaroos defender in doubt for round one

North Melbourne’s best backman Robbie Tarrant has twinged a groin and will be monitored over the next week, casting some doubt on him for round one.

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The important key defender has not been ruled out of the opening game but will miss a few sessions in the next week as the club manages his groin flare-up.

While North will unashamedly play a young side this year to blood their talented youngsters like Will Phillips, Phoenix Spicer, Tom Powell and Charlie Lazzaro, they will be looking to experienced players like Tarrant to be the big bodies and mature heads to offer suport to the teenagers.

The Roos are hopeful Ben Cunnington (concussion), Jed Anderson (calf) and Jared Polec (hamstring) will be able to be right for round one, leaving only Trent Dumont with a calf injury as unlikely.

North lost their pre-season match at Arden Street on Saturday by 39 points to Hawthorn, a team that finished with them in the bottom four last year.

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Serena Williams statement on Meghan Markle interview


They’ve supported each other at weddings and grand slam finals — and now Serena Williams is backing Meghan Markle as the world turns its spotlight on the Duchess of Sussex.

As new unseen clips emerge from Markle’s bombshell Oprah interview, Williams has sent a strong message of support to her close friend.

“Meghan Markle, my selfless friend, lives her life – and leads by example – with empathy and compassion,” Williams wrote.

“She teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble. Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced.

“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimise us, to break us down and demonise us.

“We must recognise our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimisation are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.

“I want Meghan’s daughter, my daughter and your daughter to live in a society that is driven by respect.

“Keep in your memory the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

It’s not the first time Williams has leapt to Markle’s defence.

In 2019, the Duchess of Sussex made a surprise visit to Wimbledon to watch Williams play courtside.

But Meghan’s Wimbledon appearance attracted a flurry of negative press, with those sitting nearby reportedly warned by security not to take photos of her.

Speaking at a Wimbledon press conference, Williams was asked by one reporter whether Meghan would watch her play in the finals given the “negative media” surround her last appearance.

“You know I didn’t know there was negative media out there,” Williams replied. “Every time I see her name attached to anything I don’t read it.”

The tennis superstar praised Meghan — who she has been close with since meeting at a celebrity volleyball event in 2014 — for being a good person.

“She couldn’t be a better friend to me — low moments, high moments she’s always there and that’s all I want to be to her,” she said.

Tennis fan Hasan Hasanov was photographed being told off by the Duchess of Sussex’s security team for snapping a selfie of himself with the players in the background.

Questions were also raised about why Meghan and her two friends sat in the middle of rows of empty seats while on an earlier visit Kate Middleton had been surrounded by the public.

An official organising the Duchess of Sussex’s visit later admitted it had been difficult, saying to The Times: “It was a nightmare, she was a nightmare”.

Meghan was accused by the official of having “self-regarding paranoia” and breaking dress code.

They said: “They couldn’t invite her into the Royal Box because she was wearing jeans but that didn’t really matter because all she wanted to do was come and watch Serena.”

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Canberra Repertory’s version of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is powerfully staged




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Australian Open: Naomi Osaka to face Jennifer Brady in final after beating Serena Williams


Naomi Osaka has won both of her Grand Slam matches against Serena Williams

Naomi Osaka claimed an impressive victory over Serena Williams to reach the Australian Open final and end the American’s latest quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

Three-time Slam champion Osaka withstood early pressure from Williams to win 6-3 6-4.

Osaka is on a 20-match unbeaten streak and has never lost a Slam final.

The Japanese will face Jennifer Brady in Saturday’s final after the American beat Karolina Muchova.

Brady came past the Czech 6-4 3-6 6-4 to seal a spot in her first Grand Slam final.

It will be a rematch of the 2020 US Open semi-final, which Osaka came through in three sets.

“I was really nervous and scared in the beginning and then I sort of eased my way into it,” Osaka said of her match with Williams.

“It’s just always an honour to play her and I just didn’t want to go out really dud. I just wanted to try my best.”

It is the first time Williams has lost a semi-final at the Australian Open in eight appearances in the last four.

Williams will be left to rue the opportunities she let slip and once again wonder whether she will equal Margaret Court’s major record.

Osaka holds her own

Naomi Osaka's camera message to her sister
Osaka wrote a message to her sister Mari after her victory over Williams

Osaka and Williams’ last meeting at a Grand Slam came at the US Open final in 2018 – a match remembered for Williams’ outburst at the umpire and Osaka’s tears at the presentation ceremony.

Since then, Osaka has won a further two major titles and risen to third in the world rankings, as well as finding more confidence and calmness on court.

It was Williams, with all her experience, who made the better start, breaking a nervous Osaka in the first game of the match before holding her own serve to take a 2-0 lead.

Although Osaka’s serve was not at its best, her power and increasingly comfortable movement allowed her to hit back, taking advantage of a dip in Williams’ game to win six of the final seven games and take the first set.

Williams’ own serve, such a big weapon in her game, did not fire, and she grew more frustrated as her big shots missed the mark and Osaka’s found the line.

The 10th seed yelled to herself to “make a shot” as she mixed easy errors with powerful winners to go an early break down, but it looked as though the match would shift when she broke back.

A tentative Osaka, serving for a 5-3 lead, was broken to 30, with the crowd cheering Williams on, but the Japanese showed tremendous grit to instantly fire back.

She broke Williams to love and then produced four huge first serves, including one ace, to wrap up the match in 75 minutes.

What next for Williams?

Serena Williams acknowledges the crowd
Williams said a heartfelt goodbye to the crowd on Rod Laver Arena

The biggest frustration for Williams will be that, for large parts of the match, she stuck with Osaka, before simple errors let her down.

Williams had been so impressive against second seed Simona Halep in the quarter-finals and this looked to be her best opportunity yet to beat Osaka for a second time in four meetings.

Her movement and overall fitness is as good as it has been since her return from maternity leave in 2018.

But Osaka often came out on top in the longer rallies, her easy power allowing her to end the point with a winner, and Williams could not find a way past her, finishing with 24 unforced errors to 12 winners.

With her first-serve percentage dropping, Williams tried to urge herself onwards, but she could do nothing to stop Osaka winning the final eight points of the match.

Her coach Patrick Mouratoglou has said the 39-year-old is “not obsessed” with matching Court’s record, but it is no secret that she has used it for motivation on her return to the Tour.

It has been said that by equalling the record, Williams would secure her status as the greatest of all time – but the heartfelt standing ovation the crowd on Rod Laver Arena gave her suggests she has already secured that title.

Brady survives hectic ending

Jennifer Brady celebrates
Brady was eventually able to celebrate after converting her fifth match point

Brady and Osaka both described their semi-final meeting at Flushing Meadows as one of their best matches.

The US Open was Brady’s Grand Slam breakthrough after struggling with injuries and mostly playing doubles on her return.

She was the more solid of the two against Muchova, who stunned Ashleigh Barty in the quarter-finals, but required some real grit to win the match as the Czech saved four match points.

The 22nd seed dropped to her knees, thinking she had converted her second match point as Muchova hit the net, before realising her own shot had been called out.

Brady’s team urged her to get up and she had to fend off two break points as her opponent tried to fight her way back into the set.

An edgy 18-point game saw Brady secure victory on her fifth match point as Muchova sent a forehand long.

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