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Serena returns to Wimbledon seeking eighth title

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By Agencies
London :Four weeks on from her run to the last 16 at the French Open, Serena Williams is back at Wimbledon, having missed last year’s event as she prepared for the birth of her daughter.
Ranked 183 after just three tournaments back, the seven-time champion will go into Wimbledon as the 25th seed, the seeding committee having deviated from the WTA ranking list, an exception because she is coming back after maternity leave.
Having pulled out before her fourth-round match in Paris with a pectoral injury, Williams did not play a warm-up event on grass. Instead she arrived early at Wimbledon and has been practising hard under the eye of her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
Such is the aura the American brings with her to south west London, British bookmakers make her second favourite for the title, behind the two-time champion, Petra Kvitova.
Three months short of her 37th birthday, it is 16 years since she first won Wimbledon and as she continues to regain full fitness, she knows an eighth title is a big ask.
“Roland Garros was a mountain way steeper than the other mountains I’ve climbed,” she told her documentary, Being Serena, which is being streamed on Eurosport Player.
“And….I can honestly say that I didn’t enjoy all the demands and all the tugging.
“It’s a lot of stress and it’s a lot of pressure. But I have support that I’ve never had before. I have Olympia and I have my husband and it made it a little bit easier.”
Combining being a mum and a professional tennis player presents additional challenges but Williams says motherhood has changed the way she looks at things.
“I’ve been a perfectionist my whole life,” she said. “And I feel like Olympia has made it lesser for me.
“On the court sometimes, when I’m really down, I think about her. I’m like, ‘Serena relax, you can do this’. If anything, she enables me to believe in myself more and relax and realise that there are other things that are more important.”
At the French Open, Williams showed she has lost none of her fighting spirit, with wins over Ashleigh Barty and Julia Goerges particularly impressive.
With such a formidable record at Wimbledon, where she last won the title in 2016, Williams will still be confident she can do well again, though she admits it has been tough to re-programme her post-pregnancy body.
“It wasn’t as tight as I was used to,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America programme. “I’ve played tennis for over 30 years, so I’m so used to (being) incredibly fit.“But I realised every single body is different. Every single experience is different. I honestly didn’t realize that until a month ago.”
But feeling less than superhuman, she said, had actually given her a new lease of life.
“I definitely have a new sense of determination, new sense of expectations,” she told ‘Being Serena’. “I guess it all starts again where I have to be this athlete that I know I can be.”


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Kohli scripts history, makes clean sweep of ICC awards

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Dubai :Indian skipper Virat Kohli has become the first player in history to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the Intenational Cricket Council (ICC) Cricketer of the Year, the Men’s Test Player of the Year and the ODI Player of the Year awards following an extraordinary 2018.

Not only is Kohli the first player to win these three major ICC awards together, but he has also been named the captain of the ICC Test and ODI teams of the year for a fabulous run in the international cricket.

Kohli scored a total of 1,322 runs at an average of 55.08 in 13 Tests with five hundreds during the calendar year, while in 14 ODIs he amassed 1,202 runs at an astonishing average of 133.55 with six centuries. He also scored 211 runs in 10 T20Is.

 

The 30-year-old from Delhi, who first came into limelight when he led India to victory at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia in 2008, finished the year as the top-ranked batsman in Tests and ODIs.

The highest scorer in both forms of the game in 2018, he was one of only two batsmen to score more than 1,000 runs in Tests and only among three to do so in ODI cricket.

Kohli was the unanimous choice of the ICC Voting Academy for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy with South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada coming in second to him for both this award and the ICC Test Player of the Year award. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was runner up to Kohli for the ICC ODI Player of the Year award.

Ecstatic to receive the honour, “It feels amazing. It’s a reward for all the hard work that you do throughout the calendar year. I feel really grateful and very, very happy with the team doing well at the same time myself performing. Having recognition at the global level from the ICC is something you feel proud of as a cricketer because you understand that there are many players playing the game.”

“To be rewarded in this manner from amongst all of them is obviously a very proud moment for me and something that gives you more motivation to keep repeating the same things because you have to keep the standard of cricket up and keep bringing in consistent performances. From that point of view, these awards give you that extra motivation,” he added.

Meanwhile, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson praised Kohli as well asl every cricketer who picked the award during the world body’s annual awards.

“Sincere congratulations to every one of our individual winners and those players named in our ICC Test and ODI teams of the year. Special mention must go to Virat Kohli, who becomes the first ever player to win the Sir Garfield Sobers award along with Test Player of the Year and ODI Player of the Year and be named as captain of both teams,” he said.

Richardson stressed that in order to be recognized as a true cricketing great, one need to be successful in all format of the game and Kohli has become a great ambassador for our sport.

“This is well-deserved recognition for an extraordinary talent. His regard for the game and particularly for Test cricket is also recognized and appreciated. He is passionate in his support of the longest form of the game and its continued importance,” he said.

Kohli had won the Sir Garfield Trophy and ICC ODI Player of the Year awards last year and was also the ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2012.

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‘Kohli will break all records created by Tendulkar’

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Karachi:Pakistan’s legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas joined the bandwagon of former greats terming Indian captain Virat Kohli as the best batsman in world cricket who will break all the records of Sachin Tendulkar.

Kohli currently has 39 ODI hundreds and is only 10 short of Tendulkar’s 49.

Appearing on the Gsports show on GTV News channel, Zaheer advised cricket pundits to always keep in mind the era, conditions and opposition while assessing a batsman.

 

“I think at the moment Virat is the best. He will break all the records. But not only Virat, the Indian team has other top batsmen too. If you look at Rohit Sharma, you are just delighted to watch his strokes. One can only appreciate the beauty of his strokes. The variety of strokes in possession of Indian batsmen counts a lot,” Abbas said.

It all boils down to skills, said Abbas, who was considered a batting artist during his best years.

“Obviously, the confidence will come when you have so many strokes and when you know how to stay at the wicket. These skills don’t come easily. It takes time and hard work and one needs to develop a system for this,” he said.

Zaheer, who played 78 Tests and 62 ODIs, was also candid in stating that even top Pakistani batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq had still not reached that standard.

“They are our players and I want to see our batsmen do very well. But at this stage, they have not reached that standard that I can feel proud of. They haven’t come up to world standards as yet,” he said.

Abbas said there was a time when Pakistan used to beat India regularly but in recent times the neighbouring country’s cricket structure had improved a lot and their system is producing some top quality players.

“Not only their batsmen but even their bowlers. They have improved a lot and this is because their board had the foresight to set up the MRF pace academy years back and get Dennis Lillee as their first coach to help groom their pacers,” he said.

“India at this moment is a top side. Their standards have improved a lot, especially after the IPL because they don’t allow their players to go and play anywhere else.

They are giving so much financial security to their players.”

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Pant is ICC’s Emerging Cricketer of 2018

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Dubai:India’s young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant was on Tuesday named as the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018.

“Congratulations to @RishabPant777, the ICC Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018!,” ICC tweeted.

Pant is the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a Test century in England and Australia. The youngster also equalled the record for the most catches taken in a Test, with 11 during the Adelaide Test in December.

 

Left-handed Pant produced some fine knocks during the voting period and getting off the mark in Test cricket with a six only highlighted his potential. He scored 537 runs with a century and two fifties in eight Tests during the voting period with 40 catches and two stumpings. In three ODIs, he scored 41 runs and took three catches and in eight T20Is scored 114 runs and pouched two catches.

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