Martina Navratilova said she was "gutted" to miss Wimbledon's Centre Court centenary celebration after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The nine-time champion was absent from a parade of champions, and in a series of posts on social media she explained why she had to sit it out.

Past winners were introduced to the main show court's middle Sunday crowd, with the one-time champions going first, all the way through to eight-time Wimbledon king Roger Federer.

Navratilova would have come out last of all, as the most successful singles player in Wimbledon history, but she was unable to take part. Including doubles, Navratilova won 20 slam titles at Wimbledon.

"Unfortunately I will miss it as I just tested positive this morning," she wrote on Twitter shortly before the ceremony. "Am so bummed!!!! I am gutted I can't be there."

Confirming she had the coronavirus, Navratilova wrote: "Yup, got it here for sure… oh well. So wanted to be on that court with so many champions of our sport."

Asked how she was feeling, the 65-year-old Czech-born American added: "Not too bad so far- wouldn't want to play tennis but ok… fingers crossed."

A host of greats of the game delighted the crowd, with stars of the women's tour including Navratilova's former great rivals Chris Evert and Billie Jean King, along with Margaret Court and Venus Williams, while Federer was joined by a field of fellow men's superstars that included Rod Laver, Novak Djokovic, Stefan Edberg, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Three-time former champion Boris Becker was another notable absentee, after the German was jailed in April for offences relating to his 2017 bankruptcy. Seven-time winner Serena Williams also missed the event, after her first-round defeat.

Navratilova has been working at Wimbledon during the championships, notably appearing as a member of the BBC broadcast team.

Venus Williams was "inspired" by sister Serena as she made a triumphant return to action in the Wimbledon mixed doubles alongside Jamie Murray.

The 42-year-old partnered Murray on Friday and rolled back the years with a 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 victory against Michael Venus and Alicja Rosolska in the first round.

That match marked Williams' first competitive action since last August's Chicago Open, with many questioning whether she would ever return to the court.

After showing some flashes of brilliance on Court One, Williams later revealed sibling Serena played a part in her decision to participate in this year's event at SW19.

Serena had herself returned from a year on the sidelines earlier in the week in the women's singles, only to go down to Harmony Tan in a three-set thriller.

"It was definitely super last minute. I was just inspired by Serena," Venus said. "It was amazing. I just was so happy to have so much help today.

"I've been trying to play with [Jamie] forever. He plays hard to get!"

All-time great Williams, who made her Wimbledon debut 25 years ago, is a five-time All England Club singles champion and has won the women's doubles on six occasions.

Williams and Murray will now face British wild cards Alicia Barnett and Jonny O'Mara in the second round, and the American says the fire is back in her belly.

"I had no plan to play but I saw the grass and I got excited," she said. "That's why I was asking [Jamie] last minute. He just had a baby, too, so I know there's a lot going on.

"I couldn't have guessed that I would be here right now, taking it at the last minute. I haven't played in a year, so you don't know what you're going to get.

"Practice is so much different from a match. It's not easy physically or mentally or anything. Just at the last it was like, 'Oh my God, wow.'

"I just not only played a match but won a match. I'm never like that kind of player. I always expect to win. 

"When I sat there, we wanted to win, but when I sat there at the end, it was real. Yeah, I felt something in my heart."

Venus Williams rolled back the years as she teamed up with Jamie Murray to add another Wimbledon victory to her collection.

The five-time All England Club singles champion and six-time women's doubles winner turned 42 years old a fortnight ago, and this year marks 25 years since her Wimbledon singles debut.

Williams had been inactive on tour since last August's Chicago Open, with many doubting she would play again, but the American great showed flashes of brilliance alongside British doubles expert Murray in a 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 victory over Michael Venus of New Zealand and Poland's Alicja Rosolska.

Some 24 years on from the season when she and Justin Gimelstob landed the Australian Open and French Open mixed doubles titles, Williams thrilled the Court One crowd with her energetic play at times, showing only a hint of rust.

The match was not initially allocated a specific court, as organisers hoped play on a show court would end early to allow for it to be added to the programme.

That panned out ideally, meaning a busy stadium crowd got to see Williams and five-time grand slam mixed doubles champion Murray pair up for a late-evening tussle, three years after their siblings Serena Williams and Andy Murray also joined forces at Wimbledon.

Venus Williams will make her Wimbledon return after the five-time singles champion was granted a wildcard entry for the mixed doubles with Jamie Murray.

The 42-year-old has not played on the WTA Tour since a first-round defeat at the Chicago Open last year due to a leg injury.

However, despite not entering either the women's singles or women's doubles in SW19, Williams was pictured arriving at the championships with a sports bag on Sunday.

And it was confirmed on Wednesday she would be teaming up with Murray, with the pair facing a first-round clash against Alicja Rosolska and Michael Venus on Friday.

Both Williams and Murray have enjoyed mixed doubles success previously at Wimbledon.

Murray is a two-time winner having partnered Jelena Jankovic in 2007 and Martina Hingis in 2017 – beating Michael Venus in the latter final – while Williams reached the final in 2006 alongside Bob Bryan. She has won the women's doubles with sister Serena Williams six times.

This is not the first All England Club partnership between the two hugely successful tennis families either, with Serena and Andy Murray reaching the third round at Wimbledon in 2019.

Last year, Venus bowed out at the second round in the singles following defeat to Ons Jabeur but vowed she would return to SW19 – a promise she has now fulfilled. 

She follows the return of her sister Serena, who suffered a surprise singles defeat in the opening round against Harmony Tan on day two of the tournament.

Five-time singles champion Venus Williams showed up at Wimbledon on the eve of the championships, sparking speculation over what role she will play.

The 42-year-old American has played just one tournament since losing to Ons Jabeur in the second round at Wimbledon last year.

That lone appearance came at the Chicago Open in August, when she was beaten in her opening match by Hsieh Su-wei.

Williams has not made a retirement announcement, and it may be that she intends to play an active part in Wimbledon, although she has not entered the women's singles or women's doubles.

The American great has seven grand slams among her 49 career singles titles and has won six Wimbledon doubles crowns with sister Serena Williams, among their 14 slams as sport's greatest sister act.

One avenue that may be open to Venus is mixed doubles. She was not listed on Wimbledon's entry list for the invitational doubles, an event for veterans. The mixed doubles line-up has yet to be revealed.

Williams was pictured at Wimbledon by a Getty photographer at the All England Club, carrying a red sports bag, and later in the evening posted on Instagram that she was at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at London Stadium.

Serena has entered the singles on a wildcard, having made her competitive comeback on doubles duty alongside Jabeur at Eastbourne after being absent from the tour since last year's Wimbledon. She is a seven-time singles champion at London's grass-court grand slam.

Iga Swiatek said it was "special" to have produced a longer winning run than Serena Williams and ominously vowed she can take her game to another level after triumphing at the French Open.

The world number one outclassed Coco Gauff on Court Philippe-Chatrier to win her second grand slam title, beating the teenager 6-1 6-3.

Swiatek's victory was her 35th in a row, one more than Williams' best winning streak from 2013, and the Pole is the first player to prevail in nine WTA Tour finals in a row.

Venus Williams is the only other woman since the start of 2000 to have reeled off 35 consecutive victories, while Swiatek and Serena Williams are the only women in the same period to have won six titles in the first six months of a year.

Swiatek expressed her pride at having gone one better than superstar Serena.

She said: "It may seem pretty weird, but having that 35th win and kind of doing something more than Serena did, it's something special.

"Because I always wanted to have some kind of a record. In tennis it's pretty hard after Serena's career. So that really hit me.

"Obviously winning a grand slam too, but this one was pretty special because I felt like I've done something that nobody has ever done, and maybe it's gonna be even more. This one was special."

The two-time French Open champion added: "Before the match, before the tournament, I was like, 'Okay, is it going to be even possible to beat Serena's result?'.

"I realised that I would have to be in a final. I was, like, 'Ah, we will see how the first rounds are going to go'. I didn't even think about that before. But right now I feel like the streak is more important. I kind of confirmed my good shape."

Swiatek has been on another level to her rivals this year but says there is room for improvement.

"For sure," she said. "There is always something to improve, honestly. I'm still not a complete player. Especially, I feel like even on the net I could be more solid.

"This is something that Coco actually has, because I think she started working on that much, much earlier than me. There are many things. I'm not going to tell you, because it may sound like I'm concerned about some stuff."

Iga Swiatek ticked off a whole host of accomplishments as her 34-match winning streak carried her into the French Open final on Thursday.

The world number one was in sensational form heading to Roland Garros after winning five consecutive tournaments.

And there has appeared little prospect of Swiatek slowing in Paris, with her 6-2 6-1 defeat of Daria Kasatkina securing a sixth WTA Tour final appearance in a row.

Swiatek is the first player to make six finals in the first six months of the year since Serena Williams reached seven before the halfway mark in 2013.

She has also now matched Williams' best winning run this century, with only Novak Djokovic in 2011 (43), Roger Federer in 2006 (42) and Venus Williams in 2000 (35) enjoying longer sequences across both the ATP and WTA Tours since 2000.

Swiatek's feats are all the more impressive given her age, as she turned 21 just this week.

Now with 20 wins at Roland Garros, the 2020 champion is the youngest female player to that mark since Martina Hingis in 1999.

Only eight women – Evonne Goolagong, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Hingis, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic – have reached their second French Open final at a younger age.

Will Smith has apologised to Serena and Venus Williams and their family, as well as Chris Rock, after his on-stage slap aimed at the comedian marred an Academy Award win.

The Williams sisters were at the Oscars in Los Angeles on Sunday to see Smith win Best Actor for his portrayal of their father Richard in the biopic King Richard.

However, before Smith took to the stage to collect his award, he was involved in the major flashpoint of the night and one of the most remarkable incidents in Academy Awards history.

Smith stormed the stage when Rock, while presenting Best Documentary Feature, made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Rock appeared to make a comment on Pinkett Smith's hair, which prompted Smith – after originally smiling at the joke – to take to the stage and strike the comedian before telling him to "keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth".

Smith returned to his seat and was allowed to remain in attendance for the rest of the ceremony, giving a lengthy and emotional acceptance speech in which he apologised to The Academy.

Almost 24 hours past before Smith took to his Instagram page to address the issue again, explaining he took offence to a remark apparently related to his wife's alopecia but also again apologising – including to the Williams family.

"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive," he wrote. "My behaviour at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.

"Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.

"I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.  

"I would also like to apologise to The Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world.

"I would like to apologise to the Williams family and my King Richard family. I deeply regret that my behaviour has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.

"I am a work in progress."

In her own post on Sunday, Serena Williams had seemingly sought only to address Smith's success at the Oscars.

"This night has been surreal," she wrote. "To spend it sitting next to my sisters meant more than anything.

"I am so grateful to The Academy for making this an unforgettable night, and to Will Smith for bringing this story to the big screen and honouring my family. This will always be a night to remember."

Serena and Venus Williams attended the Academy Awards on Sunday as Will Smith took home the Best Actor prize at this year's Oscar ceremony for playing their father in the biographical drama King Richard.

The Williams sisters, widely considered two of the sport's pre-eminent players with 30 grand slam singles titles between them, were executive producers on the film, which charts their meteoric rise.

King Richard was nominated for six Oscars in total, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress, for Aunjanue Ellis who plays the pair's mother Oracene Price.

It was not without controversy, however, after Smith – who takes on the role of the sisters' father Richard in the film – struck presenter Chris Rock for a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, shortly before accepting his honour.

"This night has been surreal," 23-time major winner Serena wrote on Instagram following the ceremony. "To spend it sitting next to my sisters meant more than anything.

"I am so grateful to The Academy for making this an unforgettable night, and to Will Smith for bringing this story to the big screen and honouring my family. This will always be a night to remember."

Smith overshadowed his own victory though following his altercation with comedian Rock.

He apologised to the Academy during his subsequent acceptance speech, in which he was tearful, while praising Richard Williams as a "fierce defender of his family".

"I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story," he stated. "I want to apologise to the Academy. I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees.

"This is a beautiful moment and I'm not crying for winning an award. It's not about winning an award for me. Thank you for this moment and thank you on behalf of Richard and Oracene and the entire Williams family."

Andy Murray has expressed his sympathy for Naomi Osaka over the abuse she was subjected to at Indian Wells but says athletes must deal with it.

Osaka was reduced to tears as she crashed out of the Indian Wells Open with a 6-0 6-4 third-round defeat to 21st seed Veronika Kudermetova on Saturday.

A member of the crowd could be heard shouting "Naomi, you suck" after the four-time grand slam champion had been broken in the first game of the match.

Osaka approached the chair umpire to report the incident and held further discussions with the court supervisor after being insulted again.

Murray says there is no place for such conduct, but believes players must be able to ignore it.

He said: “It's a difficult one. I've often thought watching certain sports, I wouldn't say I've often seen it loads in tennis … but if I watch a football or a soccer match and a player's going to take throw-in or a corner kick and the crowd are just hurling insults at those individuals.

"I always think, how is that allowed? Like, you can't do that. If you're doing that to someone when you're walking down the street or in any other sort of work environment, that's obviously not tolerated.

"I've played in certain atmospheres as well myself in tennis, like Davis Cup atmospheres, away from home, especially where the atmosphere's intense, and sometimes things are said and it's not that comfortable.

"The people that come to watch, you want them to be there and supporting the players and not making it more difficult for them. I don't know, but it's also something that's always just kind of been part of sports as well."

He added: "If you go and watch a basketball match, for example, and a player's taking free throws, I would say like almost every basketball match I've been to one of the players has been heckled by the crowd as well

"While it's wrong for those individuals to be doing it, the athletes obviously have to kind of be used to that as well or be able to deal with that too, even though it's not pleasant.

"I feel for Naomi, that obviously it upset her a lot, but it’s always been something that's been part of sport, I guess, as well.

"You have to be prepared for that in some ways and be able to tolerate it because it does happen regularly across all sports."

An emotional Naomi Osaka says being targeted by a heckling spectator during her loss to Veronika Kudermetova reminded of abuse the Williams sisters were subjected to at the Indian Wells Open.

Osaka was reduced to tears as she crashed out with a 6-0 6-4 third-round defeat to 21st seed Veronika Kudermetova at Indian Wells on Saturday.

A member of the crowd could be heard shouting "Naomi, you suck" after the four-time grand slam champion had been broken in the first game of the match.

Osaka approached the chair umpire to report the incident and held further discussions with the court supervisor after being insulted again.

Serena and Venus Williams were subjected to verbal abuse at the prestigious tournament in the Californian desert back in 2001.

The legendary siblings' father, Richard Williams, claimed he had been racially abused at Indian Wells, while Venus Williams said she "heard whatever he heard".

Former world number one Osaka said while trying to hold back the tears after her exit: "I've been heckled before and it didn't really bother me.

"But being heckled here... I've watched videos of Venus and Serena get heckled here and if you've never watched it, you should watch it.

"I don't know why, but it went into my head and got replayed a lot. I just want to say thank you and congratulations [to Kudermetova]." 

Serena Williams boycotted the competition for 14 years before making her Indian Wells return in 2015.

Top seed Elina Svitolina had no trouble booking her spot in the Chicago Women's Open quarter-finals on the same day Venus Williams and Sofia Kenin pulled out of the US Open.

Svitolina made light work of Fiona Ferro on Wednesday, cruising to a 6-4 6-4 victory at the WTA 250 tournament.

The Ukrainian star and bronze medallist at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will face seventh seed Kristina Mladenovic in the quarters.

Marketa Vondrousova – the fifth seed, ninth seed Alize Cornet, Tereza Martincova and Rebecca Peterson also moved through from the round of 16.

At Tennis in the Land, second seed Anett Kontaveit secured a quarter-final berth by topping Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-3 in Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Williams and Kenin withdrew from next week's US Open at Flushing Meadows.

Williams – a two-time US Open champion – will not compete in New York due to a persistent leg injury, joining sister Serena in sitting out the year's final grand slam.

"It's super, super, super disappointing," Williams said in a video via her Twitter and Instagram accounts. "I'm having some issues with my leg all this summer, and just couldn't work through it.

"I tried my best here in Chicago [at the WTA 250 Chicago Women's Open], but I just was unable to figure out the equation. And there's been so many times where I've been able to figure it out, even not in the best of my health, but this time, I just couldn't make any miracles work."

Kenin – the 2020 Australian Open champion – withdrew after testing positive for coronavirus.

"Fortunately I am vaccinated and thus my symptoms have been fairly mild," Kenin tweeted. "However I have continued to test positive and thus will not be able to compete at the US Open next week."

"I plan to spend the next several weeks getting healthy and preparing to play well this fall. Thank you all for supporting me. I want to wish all the players the best of luck in New York."

Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams has been given a wildcard entry to participate in this year's tournament.

The 41-year-old American will be making her 23rd appearance at Flushing Meadows and a 15th in a row.

Williams, who has not missed a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2013, is one of eight wild card selections for the women's singles draw.

Former semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe and Emma Navarro are joined by teenagers Hailey Baptiste, Ashlyn Krueger, Caty McNally and Katie Volynets.

Storm Sanders has been awarded a reciprocal wild card in agreement with Tennis Australia.

Naomi Osaka will be looking to defend her title in New York, with the main draw scheduled to run from August 30 to September 11.

Page 1 of 2
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.