COMPTON, Calif. (AP) Venus and Serena Williams have returned to their childhood California hometown for the first time since their half-sister was killed there in 2003 to have tennis courts dedicated in their honor.
The sisters were greeted by cheers when they arrived Saturday at Lueders Park, not far from their former home in the violence-plagued city of Compton located 17 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Banners hung in the four corners of the two newly refurbished courts proclaiming them the Venus & Serena Williams Court of Champions.
Serena says driving to Compton from the Los Angeles airport “brought back so many memories.” Venus says it’s been “surreal” coming home to where they first learned to play tennis under the tutelage of their father, Richard, who didn’t attend. The sisters were accompanied by their mother, Oracene Price.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.
Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.
She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.
Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”
The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.
LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.
At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.
The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.
Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.
“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”