Goerges, Kerber aim for all-German Wimbledon final

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LONDON — It’s been 87 years since two German women played in a Wimbledon final. Julia Goerges likes the sound of a repeat, though.

“It sounds crazy to maybe have the chance to share a German final in Wimbledon,” Goerges said after she and Angelique Kerber advanced to separate semifinals at the All England Club. “Well, it’s still one more match to go for both of us. It will be both very tough matches. But it’s great to see there is a chance.”

For Goerges, it couldn’t get much tougher. She’ll be facing Serena Williams, the seven-time champion who hasn’t lost a match at the All England Club since 2014 — though she missed last year’s tournament while pregnant. Kerber, a two-time Grand Slam champion who was runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016, will be playing former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko on Thursday.

Goerges and Kerber have already accomplished something not seen at Wimbledon since 1931 by putting two Germans in the women’s semifinals. That year, Cilly Aussem and Hilde Krahwinkel went on to set up the only all-German women’s final in Grand Slam history. Just having two in the last four again is a boost to the country’s tennis, Goerges said.

“To really share this feeling with her (Kerber), with a nation, I think that’s something which is pretty special,” she said.

Of the last four women remaining, the 29-year-old Goerges is the only one who hasn’t won a major yet. In fact, this is her first career Grand Slam semifinal — even though many expected her to reach this stage much sooner. She won her first WTA title in 2010 and followed that up by winning the prestigious Stuttgart tournament the next year. But instead of establishing herself as a regular contender, her form and ranking plummeted over the next few years. That led to a radical overhaul of her coaching team and even a re-location from north to south Germany in an attempt to get back to her best.

It seems to have worked.

“I took the risk of changing everything,” she said. “But, yeah, it’s worth it. … I think now, the moment I’m living, it just shows me that I was right, I actually took a good decision.”

Goerges will be facing Williams in a Grand Slam for the second time in little over five weeks, having lost to the American in the third round of the French Open. Williams, though, insists that result isn’t an indicator of what will happen on Thursday.

“That was four or five weeks ago. That doesn’t matter,” Williams said. “This is a whole new match, it’s a new surface, it’s everything. We’re starting from zero.”

Williams, for one, isn’t surprised to see the German players doing well. And she wouldn’t mind renewing her rivalry with Kerber, whom she faced in two Grand Slam finals in 2016 — losing at the Australian Open before avenging that result at Wimbledon.

“We’ve had a lot of tough matches together,” Williams said. “Yeah, I have missed (our rivalry).”

French players get life bans for fixing

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LONDON — Two low-ranked French players were banned from the sport for life after being found guilty of match-fixing by a hearing officer.

Jules Okala, a 25-year-old with a career-best ATP ranking of No. 338, and Mick Lescure, a 29-year-old with a top ranking of No. 487, “admitted multiple charges,” the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Neither player is allowed to compete at – or even attend – any sanctioned event again.

Okala was found guilty of seven match-fixing charges and fined $15,000 in addition to the permanent suspension. Lescure was found guilty of eight charges and fined $40,000 on top of the ban.

The punishments come after both players were involved in law enforcement investigations in France and Belgium, according to the sport’s integrity agency.

Ash Barty wins Australia’s top sports award for second time

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Ash Barty’s Australian Open singles title in January was enough to ensure the former top-ranked player won Australia’s most prestigious annual sports award — despite retiring from the game less than two months later.

Barty has been given The Don Award, named after its most accomplished and famous cricketer Don Bradman.

Barty shocked the tennis world in March when she announced her retirement at the age of 25. The three-time major winner was the No. 1-ranked female player at the time of her retirement decision.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s Don Award is given to an athlete or a team “which has provided the most inspiration to the country through performance and example in the past year.”

Barty (2019, 2022) joins Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sally Pearson (2012, 2014) and Olympic champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker (2008, 2009) as a multiple winner of the award.

Barty said she had decided before the Australian Open started that it would be her last major tournament.

“This year was certainly my most enjoyable Australian Open . . . because it felt free,” Barty said in a television interview. “I played without consequence, I played like a little kid. In my eyes, there was no pressure. It was just about me trying to redeem myself, in a way, and playing how I’d always wanted to play – go out there and play like the kid that fell in love with sport.”

Barty said she has no plans to return to tennis.

“In my mind there was never going to be a perfect ending, but it was my perfect ending,” Barty said of her retirement. “It was never about finishing on a win or on a really high emotional feeling. It was just about collectively, I felt it was right.

“Now (that decision) has led to nine months of just an incredible life off the court. It’s been amazing.”

Barty married her long-time partner Garry Kissick in late July. She also golfs frequently and is reported to be playing off a handicap of low single figures.