All Scores

Chris Evert talks Naomi Osaka, stardom and her ‘fairytale’ US Open debut

(Courtesy of IBM)

When Chris Evert was 16 years old, she took center court at the 1971 US Open.

An amateur at the time, Evert was the youngest player to ever reach the semifinals of the US Open. She upset three seeded players to set up a meeting with Billie Jean King, already a five-time Grand Slam winner and the eventual US Open champion that year.

“That was like my coming out story,” Evert told Just Women’s Sports of her first Grand Slam appearance. “I lost in the semifinals to Billie Jean King, but it was a fairytale tournament for me.”

Evert became an instant American icon and embarked on one of the most storied careers in sports. Later dubbed “The Ice Maiden” for her stoic and powerful drive, Evert was a symbol of the 1970s tennis boom that showed young women they could achieve their dreams of playing and succeeding in professional sports.

By the end of 1974, Evert was the best women’s tennis player in the world — a title she would hold six more times. She became the first player, male or female, to win 1,000 singles matches and she compiled the second-most career match wins, behind only Martina Navratilova. When she was finally ready to step away from the court in 1989, Evert had won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, tied for the fifth-most in women’s history.

Exactly half a century since Evert’s Cinderella debut, the 2021 US Open begins Monday in New York. The women’s draw features some of the fiercest young talent and current legends of the game.

“The US Open is an innovator,” Evert said. “I think they’re the leader of all the Grand Slams.”

New this year at the tournament is technology from IBM, the digital partner of the USTA, that will keep fans informed about the players and matches with real-time player rankings and insights.

“It’s trying to bring the audience and fans interest in a little bit more,” Evert said of the AI-powered innovations that will be featured on the US Open app, and the ESPN broadcast.

The women’s singles draw opens with several intriguing first-round matchups. World No. 1 Ash Barty will square off against former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva of Russia, defending champion Naomi Osaka will face Marie Bouzkova and two-seed Arya Sabalenka will meet Nina Stojanović. The first round also features Sloane Stephens versus fellow American Madison Keys in what will be a rematch of the 2017 US Open final.

The US Open will be Osaka’s first Grand Slam since she withdrew from the last two major tournaments for mental health reasons.

Like Evert, Osaka made her Grand Slam debut at the US Open, winning the 2018 tournament in an epic showdown with Serena Williams. When Osaka spoke up about the consequences of media scrutiny on players’ mental health earlier this year, Evert reflected on her own experiences of dealing with stardom at a young age.

“When this mental health situation came up with Naomi, it brought me back to analyze how I felt at that point,” Evert said.

“Sometimes, I didn’t come out of my hotel room for two days. There was depression, but it wasn’t labeled back then. We didn’t know what it was. It was ‘Oh, Chrissie’s taking her losses hard.’”

Evert empathizes with Osaka but acknowledges that the attention she received was likely not as extreme.

“In my day and age, they weren’t camping out on your lawn,” she said. “If you went to a restaurant, you’d get your picture taken, but it wasn’t as intrusive.”

America’s major was without fans in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the tournament’s two-week run this year, spectators will take their seats, but they will be without several familiar stars.

Last week, Venus and Serena Williams withdrew due to injuries, making it the first time since 2003 that both sisters will miss the US Open. Serena, who has been on a four-year chase for a 24th Grand Slam singles title, which would tie her with Margaret Court for the most ever, hasn’t played since retiring from her first-round match at Wimbledon in June.

“It’s unfortunate because she loves playing in New York,” Evert said of Serena’s withdrawal. “When you do get older, the body doesn’t respond as quickly to injuries as it once did. But one thing’s for sure — she has a lot to go on to after tennis.”

Off the court, Williams and Osaka have led the way as the highest earners in all of women’s sports this year.

Evert credits the collaboration between the Women’s Tennis Association and other top athletic organizations as more women in sports — beyond professional tennis players — pursue higher compensation.

Evert also mentioned her longtime competitor and friend, tennis great Billie Jean King, as a brazen force behind the monetary success of professional women’s tennis.

“I don’t think other sports had a Billie Jean King. I feel very lucky that she was in tennis,” Evert said. “We could not have made the advances and the progress as quickly as we did if we didn’t have Billie Jean to be our spokesperson.”

Clark, Martin Square Off in First Pro WNBA Matchup

Kate Martin #20 of the Las Vegas Aces and Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever look on during the game
Things looked a little different Saturday night as the former Iowa teammates went head-to-head in Las Vegas. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Iowa teammates Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin shared the court once again on Saturday, this time as professionals.

It was Martin’s Aces that got the 99-80 win over Clark’s Fever in Las Vegas. The pair's former coaches Lisa Bluder, Jan Jensen, Jenni Fitzgerald, and Raina Harmon were all in attendance to watch their Hawkeyes — Clark, Martin, and former national player of the year Megan Gustafson — take the court.

"It’s super special. It’s cool for our program, cool for Lisa, for Coach Jan, for all of them," Clark said in a pregame press conference. "They’ve known me since I’ve been 13 years old and now I’m 22 getting to live out my dream and they’ve been a huge part of that and helping me get here and helping Megan and Kate to get here too. It’s a great moment for them and I’m sure they’re not complaining about a trip to Vegas."

As for her college teammate, Clark had nothing but good things to say ahead of the showdown. 

"I’m just really happy for her and everything Coach [Becky] Hammon says about her is so true," she said. "Every person that played at Iowa and was around her knows that to be true. She’s the ultimate teammate, ultimate person, ultimate leader."

In the end, Martin stole the show with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, while Clark amassed eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds over 29 minutes of playing time. 

"It was weird," Martin admitted after the game. "I'm not going to lie — just looking out on the court and seeing her in a different jersey than me, it was obviously different. But it's really fun. We're both living out our dreams right now."

The Aces next meet the fever on July 2nd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Barcelona Beat Lyon to Win Back-to-Back Champions League Titles

Barcelona's Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas celebrating after beating Lyon at the 2024 Champions League final
Ballon d'Or winners Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas helped Barcelona to a second-straight UWCL title on Saturday. (Ramsey Cardy - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

Barcelona was crowned champion of the Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Alexia "La Reina" Putellas, who recently re-signed with Barcelona, came off the bench to score the team's second goal. Fellow Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí provided the team’s first. After the game, defender Lucy Bronze said Putellas was nicknamed "the queen" for a reason.

"Alexia is the captain of the team and she's the queen of Barcelona for a reason,"  defender Lucy Bronze told DAZN. "She's got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and it just sealed the win for us. It was amazing."

The victory marked Barcelona's first win over Lyon in a UWCL final, having previously gone up against the French side at both the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals. It's also Barcelona's second Champions League title in a row.

"It's hard to win it once, but to do it back-to-back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that," Bronze said. "I think we go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe."

This season, the team also secured a quadruple for the first time in club history, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. The win ensures that coach Jonatan Giráldez — who has officially departed the team to join the NWSL's Washington Spirit — leaves Europe a champion.

"It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it's one of the best days of my life for sure," Giráldez told broadcaster DAZN after the game. "We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them."

Following the win, Putellas said her team "can't ask for anything else."

"Our objective was to win four out of four," the Spain international told reporters. "We have achieved everything we wanted. Every minute of sacrifice has been worth the effort — and I'd say that not after the game, but before, just entering in the stadium, with all the support we had here, it was worth it."

2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Aitana Bonmatí said that the crowd support made it "feel like Camp Nou."

"I am on cloud nine right now," she said. "It is an historic day which we will remember forever."

Sun’s Alyssa Thomas Ejected After Flagrant 2 on Sky Rookie Angel Reese

Angel Reese said there were "no hard feelings" stemming from Alyssa Thomas's flagrant foul. (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Angel Reese might have gotten knocked down on Saturday, but she got right back up again. 

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas was ejected from the Sun’s 86-82 win over Chicago following a flagrant foul 2 on Reese — the first of her career. While the two were battling for a rebound, Reese took a clothesline hold around the neck courtesy of Thomas before hitting the ground.

After the game, Reese told reporters that there were "no hard feelings" and she appreciated Thomas for playing her hard beneath the basket.

"I know she purposely probably didn’t do it towards me," Reese said. "But just being able to come out there and just be strong and stand on two feet, it was going to be a tough game and that’s what I’m built for. And my teammates had my back throughout the whole game. So I was prepared for it."

She also didn’t buy into the idea that it was a "Welcome to the WNBA" moment, but thanked Thomas "sending a message" because it helped her get back up and "keep pushing."

"It’s not just because I’m a rookie. I’m a player. I’m a basketball player. They don’t give a damn if I’m a rookie. I mean, I want them to come at me every day. I want them to come at everybody," she added. "I mean, they’re not supposed to be nice to me. I hope y’all know that. They’re not supposed to be nice to me or lay down because I’m Angel Reese or because I’m a rookie."

Reese finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists over 33 minutes.

Barcelona to Face Lyon in Champions League Rematch This Weekend

UEFA Women's Champions League Final"Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais"
Saturday's game will be the third UWCL final meeting for Barcelona and Lyon, having previously gone up against each other in 2019 and 2022. (ANP via Getty Images)

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.