The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert admitted to a "faulty rollout" of the new charter travel initiative on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ahead of Tuesday's season opener, it was announced that the only teams flying private this week would be Indiana and Minnesota. The announcement came mere days after the league made a new charter flight program for all WNBA teams public. At the time, they said it would be implemented "as soon as we have the planes."

But as two teams out of 12 chartered to their first games of the season, others like the Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky were forced to fly commercial.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

A town hall meeting between Engelbert and the players was held in response to the confusion. Everything from the league's new media rights deal to private travel was covered in the meeting, with players submitting their questions ahead of time. Sky center Elizabeth Williams told Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile afterwards that cross-country flights were prioritized.

"Flights that are across the country like [the Lynx] going to Seattle, crossing multiple time zones, or flights that usually require a connection, those were the priorities," Williams said. "That’s why New York didn’t go to DC with a charter, but Minny goes to Seattle."

What’s unclear under that metric is that the Atlanta Dream played the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, which could technically be classified as a cross-country flight. 

On Tuesday, rookie forward Angel Reese shared a photo on her Instagram story lamenting the league's use of commercial flights.

"Just praying that this is one of the last commercial flights the Sky has to fly," Reese posted. The team still has at least three commercial flights awaiting them in the near future.

"Obviously, I think all teams should be able to get chartered," Reese told the Sun-Times. "But I know moving forward... going in the right direction, being able to have some teams [chartering] is cool. Within the next weeks, everybody will be flying charter, which will be really good."

On Thursday, Lindsay Schnell of USAToday Sports confirmed that the league intends to have all teams on charter flights by May 21st.

Brazil has been named the host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, with FIFA announced early Friday. 

The decision came after a vote at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, with Brazil earning 119 votes to the joint European bid’s 78. 

This will be Brazil’s first time hosting the Women’s World Cup, with the country having hosted the men’s World Cup twice before in 1950 and 2014. It will also be the first Women’s World Cup held in South America. The tournament will follow the same 32-team format as the 2023 WWC in Australia and New Zealand.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

Brazil winning the bid was not entirely surprising after FIFA issued a report just last week, stating that the Brazilian bid had pulled ahead as host following technical inspection. After evaluation, Brazil was given a score of 4.0 out of 5, compared to the 3.7 awarded to the Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Brazil ranked higher in a number of key areas, including stadiums, accommodations, fan zones, and transport infrastructure. Though considered to be a frontrunner, the US and Mexico withdrew their joint bid prior to the technical inspection period, saying they would instead focus their efforts on 2031.

On Friday, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues called it a "victory." 

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," he told reporters. "You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

"We are working on a transformation, not only for the country but for the continent," added bid team operational manager Valesca Araujo.

Brazil intends to use 10 of the venues utilized at the 2014 men’s World Cup, including holding the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 25th. The CBF's proposal outlines that the 2027 tournament run from June 24th through the end of July. Last summer’s World Cup began at the end of July and concluded on August 19th.

Another notable element of Brazil's newly unveiled plan to grow of the women’s game is that "all [men’s] clubs wishing to take part in high-level national and continental competitions must now provide a structure for a women’s team." While the definition of "structure" was not specifically identified, the country has set targets with CONMEBOL to help increase the number of women’s club teams in the country.

In last week's inspection findings, FIFA noted that selecting Brazil as the next WWC host could "have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region."

Chelsea did what they needed to do on Wednesday in order to make Saturday's slate of season-ending WSL fixtures interesting: Beat Tottenham.

The Blues are now number one in the league, with an edge over Manchester City on goal differential thanks to an eight-goal outing against Bristol City last week. 

Yesterday's result tees up a league finale for the books as Chelsea looks to send coach Emma Hayes off with another trophy to add to her cabinet. The Blues will play FA Cup winner Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, while City is away at Aston Villa.

"We will be leaving nothing on the pitch, we will be giving everything and no matter what the result is," Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert said after Wednesday's win. "At least we can look each other in the eye and say we gave everything."

It makes for a thrilling end to Chelsea's Emma Hayes era, as the decorated WSL coach will take over the USWNT in June. And it comes after Hayes all but conceded the title race early this month after Chelsea fell to Liverpool 4-3.

"I think the title is done," Hayes said at the time. "Of course, mathematically, it's not, but I think the title is done. Our job between now and the end of the season is to keep pushing until the end, but I think it will be very difficult.

"We will never give up. But the title is far from us; it's not in our hands. I think City are deserving, their consistency has put them in that position. Of course, we will go to the end, but I don't think the title will be going to us this year."

Be it mind games or Hayes truly thinking her team was that far off, her words lit something in Chelsea. Their following two performances showed the team’s determination to have a shot at some silverware.

As for Saturday's schedule, Hayes believes her team is facing the "tougher of the two games."

"It's a fitting finale for me, being my final game," she told BBC Sport. "As I said to the players if someone gives you a second chance in life, make sure you don't need a third one. We're in the position we want to be in, and we'll give it everything on Saturday no matter what."

Star gymnast Selena Harris has been dismissed from the UCLA gymnastics team and has entered the transfer portal, the school confirmed Wednesday.

Harris, the 2024 Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year and a 12-time All-American, has two years of eligibility remaining. During her time at UCLA, she was one of the top all-around gymnasts on the team. 

UCLA did not provide details about her dismissal. 

Harris has also not spoken about it, but did repost a Tweet on Wednesday confirming her entrance into the transfer portal. She has also removed any mention of UCLA gymnastics from all her social media bios.

When reached for comment by the Daily Bruin, she shared a message thanking UCLA fans for their support.

"Just wanna thank bruin nation fans for being the best supporters!" Harris wrote via Instagram.

A former No. 1 recruit, Harris was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2023 and earned four perfect scores during the 2024 season, while also winning the Pac-12 all-around title at the conference championships in March. She finished the regular season tied for first in the country on vault. 

She competed as an individual at the NCAA championships, finishing tied for third place on balance beam after UCLA failed to advance.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut drew 2.1 million viewers across all platforms on Tuesday night, making it the most-watched WNBA game in 23 years. 

The Fever-Sun matchup was the most-watched WNBA game ever broadcast on ESPN. The network's previous record was set in 2004, when Diana Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury debut drew 1.43 million viewers.

The game between Indiana and Connecticut was also the most-watched WNBA game since an NBC broadcast of the Los Angeles Sparks and Houston Comets brought in 2.45 million viewers on Memorial Day in 2001. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

Clark had a team-leading 20 points on the night, but also a WNBA-record 10 turnovers. She finished 5-for-15 from the field.

"She's a rookie," Fever coach Christie Sides said after the game. "This is the best league in the world. We've got to teach her. We've got to teach her what these games are going to look like for her every single night. And we've got to eliminate some of that pressure for her, and that's on me."

The former Iowa star is used to the pressure, and has routinely broken viewership records throughout her career. There was hope that her presence would grow the WNBA fanbase after Iowa and South Carolina's 2024 NCAA championship clash brought in a record 18.7 million viewers. 

In April, Clark — alongside a star-studded rookie class — headlined the most-watched WNBA draft in history with 2.45 million viewers.

Arike Ogunbowale powered Dallas to a win on Wednesday, with 14 of her 25 points coming in the fourth quarter. 

Despite trailing 75-73 with 3:16 to go, the Wings rattled off the next 14 points to beat the Chicago Sky 87-79. As a whole, the Wings shot 100% on eight shots in the final five minutes of the game. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dallas Wings (@dallaswings)

"I don't know. I mean, I was dead, honestly," Ogunbowale said after Dallas's comeback win. "Maddy [Siegrist] came to me and said, 'The Lord renews your strength.' And the last five minutes, we went crazy."

Postgame, head coach Latricia Trammell applauded her team’s ability to handle the Sky’s pressure.

"We know basketball is a game of surges," Trammell said. "You just gotta weather the storm because we were gonna go on our runs as well."

While Chicago was unable to find an answer for Dallas’ fourth-quarter surge, Sky rookie Angel Reese had a solid professional debut. Her first WNBA bucket came in the third quarter, and she finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, joining the remaining four Sky starters in double-digit scoring.  

Of Reese's 12 points, seven came in the fourth quarter.

"She's [Angel Reese] a great player on and off the court," Ogunbowale said of the LSU alum's performance. "This is her first game. Obviously, she has a long career, this is a good start."

While rapper Latto was in the building for the Sky game, Kim Kardashian dropped by the Los Angeles Sparks game with daughter North to see the Sparks took on Atlanta. Rookies Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson both made their WNBA debuts, while Layshia Clarendon had their first career triple-double.

Brink finished with 11 points, four assists, and two blocks, but got into foul trouble with five fouls in 20 minutes. 

Atlanta would have the last word, thanks to Rhyne Howard leaving behind some broken ankles in her 25-point performance.

FIFA has set the dates for the first edition of the Women’s Club World Cup.

The first Women's Club World Cup will take place in January-February 2026, with the 16-team tournament held every four years after that, FIFA said in Wednesday's statement. Initial plans to introduce a Women’s Club World Cup were revealed in May 2021 by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who then called it was part of a plan to "revolutionize" the women’s game.

"It’s crucial, after the huge, huge success in Australia and New Zealand at the last [FIFA] Women's World Cup, where we had two million viewers in the stadiums [and] two billion around the world, that we build on that success to create new global competitions, because national team football is obviously based on club football as well," Infantino said following today's FIFA Council meeting, which occurred in advance of the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok.

The council additionally unanimously approved a new international match calendar with a focus on increased opportunities for rest and recovery for both players and coaches. The overloaded calendar in the women’s game has been a growing point of contention for players as the number of injuries — specifically ACL injuries — continue to rise.

Between summer international tournaments and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain European teams had to contend with the possibility of extremely condensed playing demands. That meant balancing workloads between the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021), 2022 European Championships, 2023 Women's World Cup, 2024 Olympics, and another Euros in 2025. 

When England failed to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics in December 2023, captain Leah Williamson told the Telegraph that she and her teammates were actually a bit relieved to have the summer off.

"It's horrendous that one of the first things that popped into my head about the Olympics was, 'at least they'll probably all get another two or three years on their career now, because they'll get a summer off,'" she said. "Everyone needs a rest and now they'll get one.

"Nowadays we get to October and girls are saying, 'I'm tired,' because you're carrying so much from the previous season. We are driving ourselves into the ground with it, so some sort of solution needs to be found soon, in terms of the schedule, otherwise it's not sustainable."

It should be said that the international schedule doesn’t include club responsibilities. The NWSL season kicked off this year with a number of players sidelined due to injuries picked up while playing for their national squads. This was an issue for Gotham FC, whose coach Juan Carlos Amorós called out the international schedule after USWNT forward Midge Purce suffered an ACL tear after competing in the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup.

"We lost Midge during the game which for me is a bittersweet flavor," Amorós told reporters after Purce exited Gotham's March 24th match against Portland. "By the way, it’s another player that came from the Gold Cup. Last week, it was Debinha. We are paying the consequences of a tournament that shouldn’t have happened.

"We’re talking about protecting the players, [who shouldn't] go to play an international competition after one week of preseason. We’ve seen the consequences now. We’ve got Rose, Lynn, last week it was Debinha in Kansas [City] and now we have Midge. From my experience, the clubs are going to keep paying for that competition."

On Wednesday, Infantino said that rectifying the international match calendar is another step in enhancing the level of competition across the board.

"The Women's International Match Calendar and the subsequent amendments to our regulations represent an important milestone in our pledge to take the women's game to the next level by enhancing competitiveness across the world," he said.

"This calendar is such a critical tool to ensure we continue to drive global professionalization of women’s football," added FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Dame Sarai Bareman in a statement. "In many parts of the world, international football provides crucial top-flight playing opportunities for female players, and this is particularly the case in nations where domestic leagues are not yet fully professional. This calendar strikes a balance to enable the domestic and international games to grow side by side, while at the same time ensuring players will have more opportunities to rest, recover, and re-train between windows and following major tournaments."

The Las Vegas Aces celebrated their second-straight WNBA title on Tuesday with a banner raising and championship ring ceremony — as well as a pregame pep talk from NFL legend Tom Brady

It all unfolded before the Aces took on the Mercury in front of a sellout home crowd at Michelob Ultra Arena. 

Included in the ring design is the team’s 2023 motto, "Aces vs. Everybody," as well as 34 diamonds encrusting the team’s name to commemorate their league-record 34 regular season wins. It also features two trophies, signifying the back-to-back titles, with the trophy bases forming a reference to the franchise’s 14 playoff appearances. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

"We're back," team owner Mark Davis announced during Tuesday's celebration. "Not only are we back, we're back-to-back world champions. All I can say is let's three-peat."

"We're so grateful to have a fan base that is supportive of us," two-time MVP A’ja Wilson told fans. "We're blessed to be in this situation. We worked our butts off to get to this point, so we just want to say thank you."

Brady’s attendance was a surprise for the players, with coach Becky Hammon saying she purposely didn’t tell players beforehand that the Aces minority owner would be visiting.

"I thought it would be cool to bring a sports figure in who's not only invested in our team, but also knows a few things about winning," Hammon said, smiling. "Just let him have the floor. He's somebody who has sat where they've sat — chasing history and trying to be the greatest.

"Those things don't just happen. You really have to be intentional about your work, your approach... And about winning the moments. We're certainly happy that he came and shared some of his knowledge and passion and really love for women's sports."

Brady shared a special message with the team ahead of the game, with Wilson adding a bit of insight after the final buzzer. The 2023 Finals MVP led the team with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists in the Aces' 89-80 win over the Mercury.

"He was saying, 'The banners are always going to be there, so you don't have to try to defend that. Just go do what you've been doing,'" Wilson said. "That message made the night for me. Because I feel like we get so caught up in, 'Oh, my God, we've got to three-peat.' 

“But that banner is going to be there forever. My ring is going to be in the trophy case forever. Let me focus on getting better, and then that's when everything else flows."

And as for the ring?

"The ring is nice... It's huge," Wilson said. "I was not expecting that. It's like diamonds all the way around — bling, bling, bling, bling, bling."

Caitlin Clark is taking some lessons away from her real first taste of WNBA regular season action

Clark walked away from the Indiana Fever’s 71-92 loss to Connecticut with a team-high 20 points — but she also committed 10 turnovers, the most in a career debut in WNBA history. It took her until well into the fifth minute of the second quarter to score as she adjusted to the Sun’s defense.

"I'm disappointed, and nobody likes to lose, but I don't think you can beat yourself up too much about one game," Clark said after the game. "I don't think that's going to help this team.

"Just learn from it and move on," she added.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

It was Clark’s "Welcome to the W" moment, as many veterans alluded to prior to her debut. Clark admitted that the game was "physical," and that she’s growing to expect that more than she did in college.

"Just expecting physicality was the biggest thing,” she said. "I think also just like some uncharacteristic stuff. Like, I pick up the ball and travel, I dribble off my foot, I pass it on the inbound, I turn it over. So just a few things that are just — you have to be crisper.

"I thought it took me a little while to settle into the game. I felt the second half was a lot better... but just getting more comfortable... that's just going to come with experience." 

Even still, Clark finished with 20 points — a solid debut for a rookie despite the turnovers. As for Indiana, Fever coach Christie Sides was critical of her team after the loss. NaLyssa Smith was the only other player in double-digits.

"They punched us in the mouth tonight," Sides said, before offering a more stout analysis.

"We got to have people coming back to the ball and then attacking getting in the paint," she continued. "We just weren't able to get down to yield tonight at all. If we could have gotten our feet in the paint and collapsed their defense, we would have been able to, you know, get some of our shooters. We just didn't get that."