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Global sports roundup

Taylor Townsend is the world’s top- ranked junior.

Serena: She deserves to play

NEW YORK – Serena Williams says she was alarmed by the US Tennis Association’s decision to hold a top junior player out of competition over concerns about her fitness.

Sixteen-year-old Taylor Townsend is the world’s top-ranked girl. The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that the USTA withheld funding her tournament appearances while she focused on getting in better shape.

“‘If that happened, that’s obviously a tragedy, because everyone deserves to play,” Williams said yesterday, a day after winning the US Open.

“She’s so sweet and she works so hard,” she added. “For a female, particularly, in the United States, in particular, and African-American, to have to deal with that is unnecessary. … Women athletes come in all different sizes and shapes and colors and everything. I think you can see that more than anywhere on the tennis tour.”

The USTA eventually backtracked and decided to pay her expenses for the US Open. Patrick McEnroe, head of USTA player development, said it had all been a misunderstanding.

Townsend played at the Open, winning the junior doubles title and reaching the quarterfinals in singles.

Will G4S get paid?

LONDON – Security firm G4S has a fight on its hands to convince Olympic chiefs to hand over the two thirds of its contract fee that remains unpaid, after the group failed to deliver enough venue guards and forced the military to step in.

So far, G4S has been paid only 90 million pounds (BDS$288 million) of the 284 million pounds contract fee and the rest will have to be negotiated.

Payments to G4S were stopped on July 13, two days after the world’s largest security firm admitted it would not be able to supply a promised 10,400 guards, said Paul Deighton, head of London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) who was addressing a Home Affairs Committee looking into the debacle today.

With G4S having previously estimated the problems would result in a deduction of 50 million pounds from the contract fee, a potential storm is brewing between the group and LOCOG as the two thrash out the remainder of the contract and penalties incurred.

Jerry Lawler.

Lawler suffers heart attack

MONTREAL – The make-believe world of professional wrestling took a sobering turn toward reality during a live WWE telecast last night. “Monday Night Raw” announcer Jerry Lawler had a heart attack and collapsed while on-air and was transported to a Montreal-area hospital.

Lawler, who wrestled in a tag-team match earlier in the show, was stricken while calling the action in another match and was carried backstage at the Bell Centre.

Broadcast partner Michael Cole addressed the television audience and said that the situation is “serious,” but that Lawler was breathing on his own.

The fact medical personnel were at ringside allowed Lawler to receive immediate treatment, a source said.

Lawler, 62, is a “Raw” announcing mainstay and 40-year pro wrestling veteran who has continued to step into the ring on recent WWE shows.

Dibaba after road challenge

NEWCASTLE – Three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba, after her latest 10,000m victory in last month’s London Games, will turn her attention to winning the Bupa Great North Run on September 16.

Dibaba will make her debut over the distance from Newcastle to South Shields, where the elite field includes reigning Olympic and World Marathon champions Tikki Gelana and Edna Kiplagat.

Her appearance in the IAAF Gold Label Event is a clear indication that the 27-year-old Ethiopian, after a highly successful track and cross country career, now intends to switch her attention to road racing – including a high profile marathon next spring.

Dibaba has limited experience of road racing, having mainly competed over only 5k in recent years, but in a rare outing at 15k in 2009 she set a World record of 46:28 in Nijmegen.

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