Serena Williams named WTA’s Player of the Year
LONDON — Serena Williams has been named the WTA’s Player of the Year after winning major titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and claiming gold at the London Olympics.
Williams, who has won 15 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals, was 48-2 over the final seven months of the season.
It is the fourth time Williams has won the award, which is voted on by international tennis media. She also was named Player of the Year in 2002, 2008 and 2009.
Only Steffi Graf (eight times) and Martina Navratilova (seven times) have won the award more than Williams.
McClain not practicing for 2nd straight day
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Linebacker Rolando McClain remained a member of the Oakland Raiders on Thursday despite being told to stay out of practice for a second straight day and not to report to the team facility.
The former first-round pick is stuck in limbo a day after being sent out of practice by coach Dennis Allen for undisclosed reasons.
Allen said he talked with McClain on Thursday and that McClain was told not to report to the team’s facility as the Raiders (3-8) prepare for Sunday’s home game against the Cleveland Browns.
Allen said McClain has not been suspended and remains on the 53-man roster but would not speculate on what the future held for the linebacker.
McClain was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft after helping Alabama win a national championship. He has struggled so far in his career and has had his playing time sharply reduced in recent weeks.
In 41 career games with Oakland, McClain had 6 1/2 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, no fumble recoveries and did little to help improve Oakland’s struggling run defense.
Bowyer and Gordon still not speaking about Phoenix
LAS VEGAS — Not even the party atmosphere in Las Vegas can cut the tension between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer.
The two drivers haven’t spoken since Gordon intentionally wrecked Bowyer at Phoenix on Nov. 11, an incident that triggered a garage-area melee between the drivers’ crews and earned Gordon a $100,000 fine from NASCAR.
Gordon said Thursday that the season-ending activities this week in Las Vegas have been “awkward” because he and Bowyer haven’t socialized. Bowyer is popular among the other drivers and considered the life of the party.
“It’s been awkward because I’ve always had a good relationship with him, we’ve always talked and had fun,” Gordon said. “That’s obviously not the case. I thought he might have gotten over it at least enough to look at me, but he won’t even look at me, and when you are in this type of environment, that’s going to be odd.”
Bowyer, meanwhile, still doesn’t want to discuss the incident. He and Gordon spoke in the NASCAR hauler at Phoenix, but haven’t talked since.
Bowyer would not talk about it with reporters during the season finale at Homestead and on Thursday indicated he’s not ready to resolve the issue with Gordon.
He three times tried to change the subject, even once attempting to instead talk about nightclubs before finally growing exasperated.
“Good God,” he said. “Is that my story I have to talk about?”
When told it was the story until it’s resolved, Bowyer indicated he’s not ready to resolve the issue with Gordon.
FIA has explanation for Ferrari in passing case
ROME — Formula One’s governing body said Thursday that it will explain to Ferrari why it did not penalize Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel for an overtaking maneuver in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
FIA believes there is no cause for Ferrari to lodge an appeal that, if successful, would strip Vettel of the F1 title and give it to Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.
Video footage from Sunday’s Brazilian GP appears to show that Vettel passed Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso’s while a yellow caution light was on.
If a rules breach were proven, Vettel would be hit with a 20-second penalty, which would move him from sixth place to eighth in the race and give Alonso the F1 title by one point.
Russian could lose Olympic medal in doping case
MOSCOW — Russia’s Darya Pishchalnikova could be stripped of her silver medal in the discus at the London Olympics and face a lifetime ban following a positive doping test.
Russia’s All Sports agency says Pishchalnikova tested positive for the banned substance Oxandrolone in a reanalysis of a sample taken in an out-of-competition control last May. The original test was negative, but her sample was checked again months later based on a more advanced testing method introduced by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The positive test means Pishchalnikova could be retroactively disqualified from the London Games, where she finished second behind Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic.
If the Russian is stripped of her medal, the silver will go to Li Yanfeng of China and the bronze to Cuba’s Yareli Barriosnikova.
McKee to help lead US Olympic sailing team
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — Two-time Olympic medalist Charlie McKee has been appointed high-performance director of the U.S. Olympic sailing program.
Thursday’s announcement came three months after the United States’ embarrassing flop at the London Olympics, when it failed to win a medal for the first time since the 1936 Berlin Games.
McKee’s responsibilities will include managing all on-the-water elements of the U.S. sailing team, including the coaching program, technical development and youth development. He will report to Josh Adams, managing director of the U.S. Olympic sailing program.
Adams says McKee “is absolutely the right person to lead all performance aspects” of the team.
McKee won the bronze medal in the 470 class in the 1988 Olympics with John Shadden and the bronze in the 49er in 2000 with his brother, Jonathan. He also coached the U.S. windsurfers in 1992, when Michael Gebhardt won silver.
McKee also has been involved in two America’s Cup campaigns.
Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta up for FIFA award
SAO PAULO — Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta are the finalists for FIFA’s world player of the year award.
They were picked from a list of 23 candidates for this year’s Ballon d’Or, with Messi looking to become the first player to win the award four times. The Argentina and Barcelona playmaker won the award the last three years.
The winner will be announced in Switzerland on Jan. 7. The only two other players to have won the FIFA award three times are Ronaldo and former France great Zinedine Zidane.
The finalists for the women’s world player award are five-time winner Marta and United States duo Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho were in the running for the world coach of the year award. The women’s coach of the year award will go to either France’s Bruno Bini, Japan’s Norio Sasaki or the United States’ Pia Sundhage.
By wire sources