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.”

Curry becomes only FT female assistant coach in DI men’s basketball

All it takes is one person to begin to blaze a trail for others to follow. And in Division I college basketball, their “first” just arrived.

According to CBS Sports, the University of Maine has recently hired former WNBA guard Edniesha Curry as a full-time assistant coach for their men’s basketball team, becoming the only full-time female assistant coach in Division I men’s basketball.

Prior to earning the assistant coach position, CBS Sports says Curry was working at UMaine as an assistant basketball player development coach for the women’s team between 2015 and 2017, also playing in the WNBA and overseas between 2002 and 2009. In between her new role at UMaine and her last job there, CBS Sports reports that she was “working with the NBA Assistant Coaches Program and as a women’s athletic program manager at Atlanta Classical Academy.”

As for her latest gig, first-year Maine coach Richard Barron said selecting Curry for the role was an “easy choice.”

“She is extremely talented at developing players – especially within the context of defensive and offensive systems,” he said in a release, according to CBS Sports. “Eddie teaches skills that can be utilized with frequency in a game. Eddie is also great at scouting opponents as well as ‘self-scouts’ – breaking down video to find areas of improvement…Our players will be very fortunate to have someone as gifted and enthusiastic as Eddie coaching them.”

Congratulations, Edniesha!

 

Williams stars in Nike commercial

We all know that Serena Williams is the greatest of all time, but a recent Nike commercial is making sure we have no doubts about it.

According to The Cut, the tennis powerhouse was featured in a brand-new commercial for Nike that debuted during the Academy Awards to celebrate recently-passed International Women’s Day. Showing a highlight reel of her illustrious career, Williams delivered the most inspiring voice over:

“I’ve never been the right kind of woman. Over-sized and over-confident. Too mean if I don’t smile. Too black for my tennis whites. Too motivated for motherhood. But I’m proving time and time again that there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”

Ending on the words, “Until we all win,” The Cut reports Nike said in a release that the ad aims to “recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women everywhere and share our belief in gender equality, in this case, delivered by Serena Williams, the greatest athlete of all time.”

The G.O.A.T., indeed. Watch the ad in full right here.

History-making U.S. Olympic speedskater advances in Winter Games

The first black woman on the U.S. Olympic speedskating team is skating her way into success.

According to HuffPost, Maame Biney advanced in “the 500-meter short-track event with a veteran-like performance in the first round at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.” Finishing second in her debut heat with a time of 43.665 seconds, HuffPost reports that Biney was able to secure her spot while fending off third-place finisher Kim Alang.

Biney is set to also compete in the 1,500-meter skate, so with several competitions under her belt and headed her way, she told HuffPost that for her, this experience is all about having fun.

“I don’t really feel pressure to be the first to get a medal or anything like that,” she said. “I just want to go out there, do my best and have fun, and experience the Olympics. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to win, obviously, but also have fun.”

Lovato to launch fall ‘Fabletics’ collection

Demi Lovato’s first collaboration with Fabletics was so nice, the duo is doing it twice, returning to the drawing board to launch an all-new fall collection.

According to a release, the “Sorry Not Sorry” singer’s second collaboration with the activewear line will feature 12 exclusive outfits that are “a combination of performance and lifestyle pieces with new design elements such as contouring waist straps, paint splatter camo and vibrant heather prints.”

Featuring a bold color palette including deep magentas and bright blues, Lovato’s new collection will pack a fierce, yet feminine style into every piece, which includes everything from tops and sports bras to leggings and outwear. The collection will also be available in sizes ranging from XXS to 3X and even includes short, regular and tall lengths.

But beyond providing stylish, empowering clothing to work out and live in, InStyle reports that her second collection will also continue to support Girl Up’s School Cycle program, which “works with the United Nations Population Fund to give girls bikes to get to school safely.”

While Lovato certainly knows that there’s nothing wrong with being confident, she told InStyle that maintaining her physical health helps her in her effort to achieve good mental health.

“I’m still learning to love my body. It’s a daily thing, and I don’t think you ever learn at one point in your life, and then it’s fixed forever,” she said. “Your body changes, you change. It’s just a matter of how much you’re working on yourself. I make sure that I put my mental and physical health before work. That is what keeps me in a good state of mind.”

Lovato’s second capsule collection is available for purchase in Fabletics stores and online.

Lovato launches new collection with Fabletics

Athleticwear by Fabletics is getting a philanthropic twist, thanks to Demi Lovato.

According to Billboard, Lovato is teaming up with the Kate Hudson-owned sportswear line to produce a collection of clothing that will benefits the United Nation’s Girl Up initiative. Specifically benefiting SchoolCycleBillboard says proceeds from the line will help “give girls bicycles, spare parts and maintenance training to provide a quick and safe mode of transport to school.”

Set to launch mid-May, Billboard reports that the Demi Lovato for Fabletics collection will  have “an array of leggings and tops, followed up by a full performance line of tops, jackets, exercise bras and leggings which are set to release in August online and in-stores nationwide.”

Lovato said in a statement that the collaboration not only allows her to work with a brand that shares the same values she holds dear, it also gives her a chance to support girls around the world through fashion.

“Being involved in the creative design process while being able to have a daily impact on young girls’ lives around the world is so rewarding to me, making this initiative very dear to my heart.”

BuzzFeed profiles plus-size athletes

Strength is not determined by your physique; it’s instead determined by your skills and your perseverance — that’s what a new feature from BuzzFeed is proving.

In their piece called, “Here’s What It’s Like to Be a Plus-Size Athlete,” BuzzFeed staffers interview seven plus-size athletes about their respective sports and what they gain from participating in sports. From a pole dancer and marathoner to cyclists and lifters, the seven women profiled all had one thing in common: they refuse to be bound by stereotypes that perpetuate one image of athleticism.

Kristina Rodriguez, a “cyclist-yogi-baby powerlifter,” told BuzzFeed that her favorite part about her sport of choice is getting to prove people wrong.

“Women have to face so much bullshit about body image,” she said. “Men do too, don’t get me wrong, but you get extra as a woman in sports. People have doubted my athleticism, but I live for the look on their faces when they see how fast or good I am at whatever sport.”

Although some have had to prove naysayers wrong, long-distance runner Olivia Frempong shared with BuzzFeed that she thinks that more diverse definitions of what it means to be athletic are being increasingly accepted.

“I think the fitness community is finally realizing that you don’t have to be a certain shape or size to accomplish things,” she said. “When I first started to run, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to do it, or that I would get injured — but now, those same people are asking me for tips on how to get started.”

Show ’em who’s boss, ladies.

To read the full feature, click here.