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Serena Williams in action.
Serena lauds Nike for Kaepernick campaign
5 September 2018, 6:30 AM

Serena Williams reiterated her admiration for American football player turned activist Colin Kaepernick on Tuesday, and praised apparel maker Nike for featuring him in a new ad campaign.

“Especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today. #justdoit,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion tweeted before she headed out to book a US Open semi-final berth with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova.

The ads prompted immediate calls for Nike boycotts over Kaepernick, who has been castigated by President Donald Trump and other conservatives for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial and social injustice, a demonstration he began in 2016.

The former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick has been effectively blacklisted by the NFL, and Nike shares tumbled early Tuesday over worries a campaign around such a controversial figure could harm sales.

Williams told reporters after her victory over Pliskova that she thought the company made a “powerful” statement.

“He’s done a lot for the African American community, and it’s cost him a lot,” Williams said. “It’s sad. But he continues to do the best that he can.

“Having a huge company back him, you know, could be a controversial (decision) for this company, but they’re not afraid,” added Williams, who has had an endorsement deal with Nike since 2003.

“I feel like that was a really powerful statement to a lot of other companies.”

As to whether athletes have a role to play in political and social discourse, Williams said she thought it was up to individuals.

“It’s their choice,” she said. “I think that’s one great thing God gave us, is the freedom of choice.

“My choice is to choose to just be the best — try to be. I’m not always perfect. Actually I’m never perfect. (I) just try to be the best that I can be, maybe I can just influence one person and that makes a change already.”

South Africa in recession for first time since 2009, rand slumps
4 September 2018, 12:21 PM

South Africa entered recession in the second quarter for the first time since 2009, data showed on Tuesday, in a stinging blow to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to revive the economy after a decade of stagnation.

Statistics South Africa said the economy contracted by 0.7percent in the second quarter, led by declines in the agricultural, transport and retail sectors.

The rand stretched losses against the dollar to more than 2 percent and government bonds fell after the data was released.

Analysts had predicted that the economy would grow 0.6percent in the latest quarter.

“We are in a recession. We reported a contraction in the first quarter … and now in the second quarter with a fall of 0.7 percent,” South Africa’s Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said.

Statistics South Africa said agricultural output fell 29.2 percent in the second quarter, while the transport,communication and storage sector fell 4.9 percent.

Mining output grew by 4.9 percent and finance by 1.9 percent, however.

Stats SA also said the economic contraction in the first quarter was steeper than initially recorded, at 2.6 percent.

Analysts said the dismal data would likely make it harder for the South African Reserve Bank to raise interest rates at its upcoming meetings.

“There is no way to sugar coat the numbers, the growth picture in the first half of 2018 is ugly and it shows in this economy that there is broad based weakness across the primary and tertiary sectors of the economy,” said senior economist at BNP Paribas Jeffrey Schultz.

“It is spooking the market it wasn’t an expected print, a lot of analysts and ourselves were expecting a very modest second quarter print, but we certainly weren’t expecting a negative.”

 

 

Baxter wary of new Libya coach
4 September 2018, 7:12 AM

Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter says he has studied the Libyan national soccer team well.

Baxter says the only challenge he has about Libya, is that the team has appointed a new coach.

But Baxter says he is certain about how they will approach the game.

Bafana are second in the group that comprises Nigeria, Libya and Seychelles.

Libya are currently topping the group, but are tied on points with Bafana after one game played.

The Libyans have a huge goal difference, after trouncing Seychelles 5-1.

“I know a lot, I have studied three games. The only thing probably is a question mark, is that they have a new coach. We can’t be certain that he will be like the old coach. We can’t be certain that his selection will be the same. I think I got a good idea how they are going to approach the game. We will have a back-up plan and I think the Libyans because of their situations are together more mostly. I guess that they will be too organized.”

Commission of inquiry into State Capture resumes
3 September 2018, 10:07 AM

The State Capture Commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will  look into applications by implicated persons in the inquiry to cross examine some of the witnesses.

The commission enters its third week and will continue listening to evidence by acting GCIS Head, Phumla Williams who is the fifth witness to give oral testimony.

Former Deputy Finance Minister, Mcebisi Jonas, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor and former GCIS head Themba Maseko have accused the Gupta brothers of interference in executive and government processes.

Some members of the hawks have also been accused of obstructing investigations into state capture allegations.

Sloane Stephens playing a shot.
Stephens cruises past Mertens into US Open quarters
3 September 2018, 5:55 AM

Defending champion Sloane Stephens eased into the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Belgian Elise Mertens on Sunday.

Stephens, who has not dropped a set in four matches at Flushing Meadows this year, lost to Mertens at the Cincinnati warm-up last month but was never in danger of suffering a repeat as she wrapped up the win in one hour and 26 minutes.

“(Mertens) beat me two weeks ago so I knew that I had to come here and fight and do my best,” Stephens said in. “I played a solid match so I couldn’t really ask for any more.”

The American struck 17 winners and controlled play from the baseline, ran relentlessly to extend the points, dominated in the longer rallies and was also helped by her opponent’s struggles on serve.

“I think just like I always say, get your racquet on it, make a play on the ball, make your opponent play an extra ball,” Stephens told reporters. “That’s the most important thing to me.

“Sometimes it doesn’t have to be the best shot, but making them play another shot, you might get another opportunity. I worked really hard on that.”

Overall, Mertens won just 46% of her first serve points and faced nine break points, losing five of them.

Stephens by comparison won 73 % of her first serves and saved four of the six break points she faced, while also making 10 fewer unforced errors than her opponent.

Next up for Stephens, who at number three is the highest seed left in the women’s draw, is a repeat of last year’s quarter-final against Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.

“I think it will be a good match,” Stephens added.

“Hoping to just get out there and kind of execute the same game plan. Quarter-finals of a Grand Slam is always really tough. It’s a big opportunity for both of us.”

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