Jessica Bouzas Maneiro Defeats Wimbledon Defending Champion Marketa Vondrousova to Reach Second Round

Jessica Bouzas Maneiro has taken down a champion…

The 21-year-old Spanish professional tennis player, currently ranked No. 83 in the world, defeated Wimbledon defending champion Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-2 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Tuesday.

Jessica Bouzas ManeiroIn the process, Vondrousova became the first defending women’s champion at Wimbledon to lose in the first round the next year since 1994.

Vondrousova was a surprise title winner at the All England Club 12 months ago, the first unseeded woman to claim the trophy at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

Now she enters the books in another — and less desirable — historic way. The only other time

2019 in the sport’s Open era, which dates to 1968, that a woman went from a championship at Wimbledon to an immediate exit a year later was when Steffi Graf was defeated by Lori McNeil 30 years ago.

Vondrousova was seeded No. 6 this time, but the left-hander, who also was the runner-up at the French Open and a silver medalist at the 2020 Tokyo Games three years ago, was never at her best Tuesday. She appeared to still be suffering after-effects from a fall during a tune-up tournament on grass in Berlin last month that hurt her hip.

Bouzas Maneiro, meantime, has reached the second round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career.

In March, Bouzas Maneiro won her maiden WTA 125 title at the Antalya Challenger. The following month, she reached the final of the Zaragoza Open, but lost to Moyuka Uchijima.

Diana Taurasi Expected to Compete in Historic Sixth Olympics at 2024 Paris Games

Diana Taurasi is headed to the 2024 Paris Games.

The United States is expected to take the 41-year-old Argentine American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury, a five-time Olympic champion, for a sixth Olympics.

Diana TaurasiTaurasi will break the record for most Olympics played in the sport of basketball.

Five players, including former Taurasi teammate Sue Bird, have competed in five.

Taurasi, who will turn 42 on Tuesday, will be joined by her Mercury teammate Brittney Griner.

This will be Griner’s first time playing internationally since she was detained in a Russian prison for 10 months in 2022. She said she’ll play abroad only with USA Basketball.

Joining the pair will be Olympic veterans Breanna StewartA’ja WilsonNapheesa CollierJewell Loyd and Chelsea Gray.

Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, who helped the U.S. win the inaugural 3×3 gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games in 2021, will also be on the team.

First-time Olympians are Alyssa ThomasSabrina Ionescu and Kahleah Copper.

All three played on the American team that won the World Cup in Australia in 2022.

The U.S. women have won every gold medal in women’s basketball since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The U.S. team will get together to train for a few days in Phoenix in July. Then it’s off to London for an exhibition game against Germany before heading to France.

The Americans will play Japan, Belgium and Germany in pool play at the Olympics.

The U.S. team will be coached by longtime Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, who has extensive USA Basketball experience.

Reeve, like former Olympic coaches, was allowed to give feedback on team makeup but was not part of the group that picked players.

Diana Taurasi Named to U.S. National Team for Upcoming Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Diana Taurasi is getting back in the international game…

The 41-year-old Argentine American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury, a five-time Olympic champion considered one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has been selected as part of the U.S. national team that will play in a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgium this week.

Diana TaurasiTaurasi is one of seven former Olympians on the roster.

She’s joined by Ariel AtkinsNapheesa CollierJewell LoydKelsey PlumBreanna Stewart and Jackie Young.

Additionally, 2022 World Cup champions Kahleah CopperSabrina Ionescu and Alyssa Thomas will be part of the team.

Aliyah Boston and Rhyne Howard round out the squad. Both players will be making their debuts with the senior national team.

Former Olympians A’ja Wilson, Brittney Griner and Chelsea Gray are unavailable to play in Belgium this week.

The U.S., which has already qualified for the Olympics thanks to a gold-medal finish at the 2022 World Cup, will open play against host Belgium on Thursday. More than 14,000 tickets have been sold for that game, and coach Cheryl Reeve expects a loud crowd that will be rooting for the home team.

“We’re expecting to go over there and be in a really tough environment,” the U.S. coach said on Sunday at the end of a three-day training camp in New York. “There’ll be 14,000 people rooting against us. It’s obviously a really good team as we open it, open the tournament. I’m hoping to experience that adversity in a way that helps prepare us for the next step.”

Reeve also feels potential adversity will help the team get ready for the Paris Olympics, where the U.S. will be trying for an eighth consecutive gold medal.

“It’ll be illuminating as far as maybe what we need to do as a coaching staff. How we can better utilize players,” she said. “Those challenges are what we are looking forward to.”

The Americans will also face Nigeria and Senegal. The top two teams other than the Americans will qualify for the Paris Games.

There are three other qualifying tournaments in Brazil, China and Hungary being played at the same time to help round out the 12-team Olympics field. France also has already qualified as the host nation.

The Americans will have another training camp at the Final Four in Cleveland in April before getting together right before the Olympics in Phoenix for a few days.

is getting back in the international game…

The 41-year-old Argentine American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury, a five-time Olympic champion considered one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has been selected as part of the U.S. national team that will play in a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgium this week.

Taurasi is one of seven former Olympians on the roster.

She’s joined by Ariel AtkinsNapheesa CollierJewell LoydKelsey PlumBreanna Stewart and Jackie Young.

Additionally, 2022 World Cup champions Kahleah CopperSabrina Ionescu and Alyssa Thomas will be part of the team.

Aliyah Boston and Rhyne Howard round out the squad. Both players will be making their debuts with the senior national team.

Former Olympians A’ja Wilson, Brittney Griner and Chelsea Gray are unavailable to play in Belgium this week.

The U.S., which has already qualified for the Olympics thanks to a gold-medal finish at the 2022 World Cup, will open play against host Belgium on Thursday. More than 14,000 tickets have been sold for that game, and coach Cheryl Reeve expects a loud crowd that will be rooting for the home team.

“We’re expecting to go over there and be in a really tough environment,” the U.S. coach said on Sunday at the end of a three-day training camp in New York. “There’ll be 14,000 people rooting against us. It’s obviously a really good team as we open it, open the tournament. I’m hoping to experience that adversity in a way that helps prepare us for the next step.”

Reeve also feels potential adversity will help the team get ready for the Paris Olympics, where the U.S. will be trying for an eighth consecutive gold medal.

“It’ll be illuminating as far as maybe what we need to do as a coaching staff. How we can better utilize players,” she said. “Those challenges are what we are looking forward to.”

The Americans will also face Nigeria and Senegal. The top two teams other than the Americans will qualify for the Paris Games.

There are three other qualifying tournaments in Brazil, China and Hungary being played at the same time to help round out the 12-team Olympics field. France also has already qualified as the host nation.

The Americans will have another training camp at the Final Four in Cleveland in April before getting together right before the Olympics in Phoenix for a few days.

South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso to Miss Upcoming Games to Join Brazilian National Team for Olympics Qualifying Event

Kamilla Cardoso will be missing several South Carolina Gamecocks games… for good reason.

The 22-year-old Brazilian college basketball player, the top scorer and rebounder for NCAA Women’s Basketball’s South Carolina is leaving the team to join the Brazilian national team for its Olympic qualifying event this week.

Kamilla CardosoShe’ll miss the Gamecocks’ next two games at home, against Missouri on Thursday night and No. 11 UConn on February 11.

“We want the best players on our team,” Staley said. “But sometimes the best players are the best players that represent another country. When we recruited her, we said if there’s an opportunity to go with your national team, go with your national team.”

Brazil is hosting one of the four-team tournaments that serve as Olympic qualifiers. The Brazilians have a tough pool with Germany, Serbia and Australia in the group. The top three teams qualify for the 2024 Paris Games this summer.

“It only makes us feel good,” said Staley, who was the U.S. Olympic coach for the 2020 Tokyo Games in 2021.

Cardoso, at 6-foot-7, has been the best player on the Gamecocks and a top candidate for Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, averaging 13.7 points and 10 rebounds this season.

Her value was apparent in an 85-56 win over Ole Miss on Sunday. Cardoso picked up two quick fouls and had to sit much of the first two quarters as the Rebels got within 32-31 right before halftime.

When Cardoso returned to the court, she fueled a 16-2 run as South Carolina (21-0, 9-0 SEC) took control.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said Cardoso will be missed. But her time on the bench in the first half gave South Carolina forwards like Ashlyn WatkinsChloe Kitts and Sania Feagin more necessary minutes as they prepare to make up for Cardoso’s points, rebounds and blocks.

“No one has a rim protector like her,” Mississippi coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said.

South Carolina will find that out for itself over the next two games.

José Bautista Becomes New Principal Owner of USL Championship Franchise Las Vegas Lights FC

José Bautista is hitting the pitch…

The 43-year-old Dominican former professional baseball right fielder and third baseman, who played 15 seasons in Major League Baseball, primarily for the Toronto Blue Jays, is the new principal owner of the USL Championship franchise Las Vegas Lights FC, the club announced on Tuesday.

José Bautista

“Las Vegas is the place to be and has emerged as a big professional sports town, and I will do everything I can to push this club forward,” Bautista said in a statement.

“As a soccer fan and former professional athlete, I am excited to be involved with the world’s game. Since my retirement from professional baseball, I have witnessed the incredible growth of soccer in the United States, and I look forward to sharing my love of sports with the Las Vegas soccer community.”

Bautista was a six-time MLB All-Star and with a .247 career batting average with 344 home runs, 975 RBIs and 1,022 runs. He played 15 seasons and donned the jersey of eight franchises along the way, but it was his 2015 playoff go-ahead home run — and the bat flip that followed — that cemented him in Blue Jays history.

The tie-breaking three-run home run in the seventh inning of a deciding Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers was capped by a memorable flip of the bat before he started rounding the bases in front of a raucous Toronto crowd.

“I kind of blacked out after the swing, hearing the roar of the crowd and the emotion of the moment,” Bautista told ESPN in 2021. “I don’t really recall anything in particular until I was catching my breath back at the bench.”

Las Vegas Lights FC have played in USL Championship since 2018. The team plays its home games at Cashman Field and the 2024 season begins in March.

According to the club’s news release, Bautista was an early equity partner for Marucci Sports, a baseball equipment startup that was sold to Compass Diversified Holdings in 2020.

Bautista represented the Dominican Republic at the 2020 Tokyo Games. His leadership helped the D.R. team earn a bronze medal, punctuated by a walk-off hit and his signature bat flip that sealed the win over Israel to secure the team’s place in the semifinals.

Laura Pigossi Defeats Maria Lourdes Carle to Claim Argentina Open Title

Laura Pigossi is celebrating a special first…

The 29-year-old Brazilian professional tennis player defeated Argentina’s Maria Lourdes Carle 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday to win the Argentina Open.

Laura PigossiWorld No.137 Pigossi took 1 hour and 32 minutes to topple 175th-ranked Carle on the Argentine’s home soil. Pigossi is now 3-0 against Carle in their head-to-head, with all three of the Brazilian’s victories coming in straight sets.

In the process, Pigossi claimed her first-ever WTA Challenger title.

In the semifinals, she outlasted Mexico’s Renata Zarazúa 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (2).

Pigossi, currently ranked No. 137 in the WTA rankings, has won eight ITF titles in her career, as well as a bronze medal in women’s doubles at the 2020 Tokyo Games alongside compatriot Luisa Stefani.

Laura Pigossi Defeats Renata Zarazúa to Reach Argentina Open Final

Laura Pigossi is aiming for her first-ever WTA Challenger title…

The 29-year-old Brazilian professional tennis player outlasted Mexico’s Renata Zarazúa 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (2) at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club on Saturday to reach the finals at the Argentina Open, a WTA 125 tournament.

Laura Pigossi Pigossi will next face Argentina’s Maria Lourdes Carle, the tournament’s No. 8 seed who defeated compatriot Julia Riera 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Pigossi, currently ranked No. 137 in the WTA rankings, has won eight ITF titles in her career, as well as a bronze medal in women’s doubles at the 2020 Tokyo Games alongside compatriot Luisa Stefani.

Mariana Pajón Among 32 Athletes Running for IOC Athletes’ Commission Elections in Paris

Mariana Pajón is hoping to represent her fellow athletes…

The 32-year-old Colombian cyclist, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and BMX World Champion, is a candidate in elections at the 2024 Paris Games to represent their fellow athletes at the IOC.Mariana PajónThe International Olympic Committee announced the list of 32 candidates this week for elections to be held during the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris from July 26-August 11, when about 10,500 athletes are eligible to vote.

After being the flag-bearer for Colombia during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Games, Pajón’s first participation in the BMX event resulted in the first gold medal for Colombia during the 2012 games and the second overall in Colombia’s participation in the Olympics.

In the 2016 Rio Games Pajón defended her title and won her second Olympic gold medal and fifth overall for Colombia. With this victory, Pajón became the first Colombian athlete to win two gold medals.

In the 2020 Tokyo Games, Pajón won silver.

But Pajon isn’t the only Latinx athlete in the running…

Kahena Kunze, a 32-year-old Brazilian Olympic sailor, is also a candidate. Together with Martine Grael she won the 49er FX class at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships and a gold medal in the inaugural 49er FX race, during the 2016 Rio Games, a feat both repeated at 2020 Tokyo Games.

Other Latinx candidates include Salvadoran sailor Enrique Arathoon, who competed at the 2016 Rio Games and 2020 Tokyo Games; Mexican pentathlon athlete Emiliano Hernandez Uscanga; Puerto Rican judoka Melissa Mojica Rosario, who competed at the 2012 London Games, 2016 Rio Games and 2020 Tokyo Games; and Argentine judoka Paula Belén Pareto, who won a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games.

Four positions are up for election.

Rebeca Andrade Wins Vault Gold Medal at World Artistic Gymnastics Championships

Rebeca Andrade has vaulted her way to another world title…

At the the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, the 24-year-old Brazilian gymnast and Olympic gold medalist denied Simone Biles a 22nd world title on Saturday by pulling ahead of the American superstar and winning her second women’s vault title.

Rebeca Andrade,Andrade capitalized after Biles couldn’t control her first vault.

She averaged a 14.750 for the gold with Biles at 14.549. Andrade is the 2020 Tokyo Games champion in the event, and took her first world title in the event in 2021.

Rebeca Andrade,“I’m really happy about this for Brazil, it’s another gold,” Andrade told Olympics.com afterward. “I don’t know if I expected it in my mind, of course, we always try to win, but the principal goal is to do my part.”

2020 Olympic bronze medalist Yeo Seo-jeong claimed her first world medal on the event in third (14.416). The medal is also a first for the Republic of Korea on the event at Worlds.

Andrade is the first Brazilian female gymnast to medal at an Olympic Games, and she is only the second Brazilian woman to win a gold medal at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

https://twitter.com/IzbasaG/status/1710650505205088349

United States will Permit Cuban MLB Players like Jose Abreu to Represent Home Country at World Baseball Classic

Jose Abreu could represent Cuba in next year’s World Baseball Classic.

The United States will permit Major League Baseball players from Cuba, like the 35-year-old professional baseball player, to represent their home country in the tournament next year.

Jose AbreuThe decision announced over the weekend in a news release by the Baseball Federation of Cuba (FCB) could be a big step in once again turning Cuba’s national team into heavy hitters on an international stage.

Major League Baseball confirmed Monday that the U.S. granted the license to FCB.

It clears the way for MLB stars such as Abreu, Yordan AlvarezRandy ArozarenaYoan Moncada and Luis Robert to play for Cuba in the WBC in March if they choose to accept a potential invitation.

It’s up to each country’s national governing body to pick the players on its WBC team. Final 30-man rosters are due on February 7 for the WBC, which begins March 8 with Cuba facing the Netherlands in Taiwan.

While the sport of choice for much of Latin America is soccer, baseball dominates in Cuba. The island has gained fame around the world for its baseball talent.

But in recent years, hundreds of those players have defected from Cuba to play professionally elsewhere. Most notably, many have become United States residents and stars with major league teams in the U.S.

The defections are largely due to a not-so-uncommon geopolitical spat between the two seaside neighbors, leaving Cuban players stuck in the middle.

Cuban athletes competing on the island can’t earn a paycheck under the communist government, which prohibited professional sports following the Cuban revolution 60 years ago.

Longtime sanctions by the U.S. make it largely impossible for Cubans to play professionally for an American team without defecting. Meanwhile, Cuba historically has not allowed Cuban players who defected on their national team rosters.

The defections have taken a toll on Cuba’s performance in international baseball competitions. For example, the Cuban baseball team failed to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games after years of previously winning medals in the sport.

In November, Cuba changed its tune and invited several top players who defected to represent the country in the World Baseball Classic, a tournament that features some of the sport’s top players competing in Japan, Taiwan and the U.S.

Weeks later, Cuban officials accused the Biden administration of blocking those players from representing Cuba.

In a statement Saturday, FCB President Juan Reinaldo Perez Pardo called the permit a “positive step,” and said the Cuban federation should have more information about the team’s WBC roster once it has more details about the license granted by the U.S.

At the same time, Perez Pardo also criticized the U.S., tweeting Saturday that “it is arbitrary and discriminatory that a permit from the government of this country (the U.S.) is needed to attend” the WBC.