June 06, 2019
The thunderstorm expected to rip through Roland Garros on day 13 will be forgotten soon enough if Amanda Anisimova and Marketa Vondrousova become the first teenage finalists in a major championship since 17-year-old Serena Williams beat 18-year-old Martina Hingis at the US Open 20 years ago.
Amanda Anisimova shocks Halep to reach French Open semi-final
That possibility describes a cycle of change that Williams had strangled with her brilliance in compiling 23 majors, a run that has stalled since the 37-year-old grande dame of tennis became a mother in September 2017. She has not won a tournament since and her game has an air of anxiety about it.
Her premature departure here – a surprise more than a shock – at the hands of another young prodigy, 20-year-old Sofia Kenin, played a major part in reshaping the draw, which now pits Anisimova against the doughty and clever Australian Ashleigh Barty in one of the semi-finals on Friday and Vondrousova against Johanna Konta in the other.
Their task will demand more resilience of them if the stormy weather is as bad as forecast but they are at least in the same lifeboat. All have played some brilliant tennis to get this far. On Thursday under clear skies, the American Anisimova stunned then outlasted the defending champion, Simona Halep, 6-2, 6-4, to become, at 17, the youngest semi-finalist here since Nicole Vaidisova 13 years ago.
Barty was equally impressive, if not as obviously dominant, in beating the 14th seed, Madison Keys, 6-3, 7-5. She said later: “That’s probably close to my best match over the last month on the clay - for all of one little blemish trying to serve out the match the first time. It was a really clean match. I felt like I was in control. I was able to put the balls in difficult positions for Maddie.”
The glowing testimonies for all the semi-finalists filled every microphone and rippled through every corridor. Pat Cash, a London resident but always an Australian, predicted, tongue in cheek, “an all-Australian final” between Barty and Konta, who was born in Sydney and has called Eastbourne home since she was 14.
Chris Evert, who won this title seven times and is now a sage voice on Eurosport, said: “Ash Barty has got more variety than any of the players. She can disrupt anyone’s rhythm. She will need that against Anisimova because she will hit you off the court. She showed power and composure and touch today.
“Jo’s had two days since her remarkable win over Sloane. Can she keep that momentum up? That is the question. I think she can, I think she will have hunger and inspiration, but she cannot get down on herself if she doesn’t play up to that level.”
She added: “We’ve always said women’s tennis is unpredictable, since Serena hasn’t been dominating the last two or three years. But Amanda played unbelievable today. I was stunned by Jo Konta on Tuesday. I was stunned again today by Amanda.”
Evert gave the impression that her compatriot - born in New Jersey and raised in Miami, the American daughter of Russian emigrants – was the one to watch. “Look at this young lady, 17 years old, a star is being born right now. Her idol is Maria Sharapova. She plays like Maria Sharapova. Halep had windows of opportunity but just didn’t take advantage of them on the big points.”
Anisimova does not lack for self-belief. A former girls finalist here in 2016, and a winner at Flushing Meadows in 2017, she told the New York Times two years ago, “I definitely want to become No1 in the world and win every grand slam One of each would be like super awesome. I hope to do that one day.”
Konta, meanwhile, was glad of an extra day off because of the rearranged timetable in the wake of Wednesday’s washout. She has rarely looked as confident and relaxed before a big match. If she is to match the exact deeds of Sue Barker – the last British winner of the French Open, 43 years ago, as well as reaching semi-finals at Wimbledon and Melbourne, and the fourth round of the US Open – she will need all her composure against Vondrousova, a willowy 19-year-old with easy power on both wings and a keen tennis brain.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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