U.S. Open changes pregnancy leave penalty

After Serena Williams returned to the court of the French Open following her maternity leave for daughter Alexis Olympia, the world-renowned athlete entered the tournament at a ranking of No. 453 — where she was previously ranked at No. 1; but now, Glamour reports that the backlash from the move has caused the U.S. Open to revisit and revise their rules.

According to Glamour, the French Open organization has “now spoken out to announce a change in post-maternity protocol, one that will no longer penalize any female player returning to the sport after pregnancy.” But that’s not all: the U.S. Open is also making similar changes, says Glamour, “creating a special protection on seedings for women who return to the sport post-pregnancy.”

In an interview with the New York TimesGlamour says U.S. Tennis Association (which oversees the U.S. Open) president and chairwoman Katrina Adams not only explained the decision as the “right thing to do,” but also as a move toward achieving social parity.

“We are all about social justice and equality, and this is definitely an instance of equality,” she said. “We think it’s a good message for our current female players and future players: It’s OK to go out and be a woman and become a mother and then come back to your job, and I think that’s a bigger message.”

Also the bigger message: making sure Williams gets her due as one of the best athletes of all time.

“Serena Williams is arguably the greatest player to ever play, with 23 Grand Slam titles,” Adams continued, according to Glamour. “She deserves the respect to be put in that position.”

Serena makes tennis court appearance in catsuit

Tennis phenom and world-class athlete Serena Williams made her return to Grand Slam tennis recently, and she did so in superhero fashion.

According to Reuters, Williams took to the French Open wearing a black catsuit befitting a Marvel superhero — or at least, that’s how she explained her outfit.

“‘I call it like my Wakanda-inspired catsuit. It’s really fun,” she said, Reuters reports,  referencing the fictional Sub-Saharan African nation which is home to superhero Black Panther in Marvel Comics. ‘I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess kind of, queen from Wakanda maybe.'”

Explaining it as her way of being a superhero, Williams did pose a different reasoning for her catsuit: health. After “health concerns over blood clots” after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia in September, Reuters says Williams offered that the catsuit is a practical (and stylish) solution to keeping her blood flowing regularly.

“Yeah, the catsuit, I had a lot of problems with my blood clots, and, God, I don’t know how many I have had in the past 12 months,” she explained. “So it is definitely a little functionality to it. I have been wearing pants in general a lot when I play so I can keep, you know, the blood circulation going.”

Who knew functionality could be so stylish — and superhero-ish?

Douglas becomes a ‘shero’

Gabby Douglas has made two Olympic appearances, won several gold medals and sits atop the world of gymnastics as one of the most celebrated athletes to come out of the sport. But of all of these accomplishments comes one that is all about inspiring young children to follow in her footsteps.

According to HuffPost, Douglas has officially joined Barbie’s “Shero” line with a doll of her own. The line, which “features other badass women like director Ava DuVernay, actress Emmy Rossum and ballerina Misty Copeland,” aims to depict different kinds of female heroes, says HuffPost.

Accompanying her doll is a description of why Douglas was chosen for the line, citing her “confidence, work ethic and belief in herself” as reasons why she is “an extraordinary role model to girls.”

“The Gabby Douglas Barbie® doll celebrates the extraordinary accomplishments of this inspiring athlete and earns her role as a Barbie® ‘Shero’ honoree, a female hero inspiring girls by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities for women everywhere.”

For Douglas, the doll is not only inspiring young boys and girls to pursue their dreams, it’s also about quashing limitations placed on us by society based on how we look.

“It’s so important in the African American community to have that doll that looks like you,” she told HuffPost. “For me that’s really big because it sends a positive message saying, you know what you can go out there and achieve your goals no matter what your hair looks like, no matter what color your skin is.”

The doll, which is currently on sale, retails for $24.95.

 

 

Biles named AP Female Athlete of the Year

With a stellar performance at the summer Olympic games that resulted in 5 medals, it’s safe to say that Simone Biles is considered one of the top names in sports in 2016. But this week, the Associated Press confirmed her elite status, naming her their Female Athlete of the Year.

According to the AP, Biles received the honor after a vote conducted by news editors and directors around the United States; after all the votes were in, Biles came away with the victory after receiving 31 out of a possible 59 votes.

The AP reports that “U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, who won four golds and a silver in Rio, finished second with 20 votes. Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon for the seventh time to tie Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles, and three-time AP women’s NCAA basketball Player of the Year Breanna Stewart tied for third with four votes each.”

The fifth gymnast to receive the title, the AP says previous honorees include “Olga Korbut in 1972, Nadia Comaneci in 1976, Mary Lou Retton in 1984 and Gabby Douglas in 2012.”

Congratulations to the world-class athlete!