Tuesday’s Sports In Brief
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — France is back in the World Cup final for the first time since Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt in 2006.
Twelve years after one of soccer’s most infamous moments, Samuel Umtiti used his head to score from a corner kick in the 51st minute and earn France a 1-0 victory over Belgium in the first of the all-European semifinals.
The French players danced on the field after the final whistle and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, who helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in 1998 and is now Belgium’s assistant coach.
France will face either Croatia or England in the final on Sunday in Moscow. Those two teams play in the other semifinal match on Wednesday, also in Moscow.
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris produced a great save in each half, denying the potent Belgian attack of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku the chance to advance the country to its first major final.
LONDON (AP) — Serena Williams came up with a comeback to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon, then walked off Centre Court with her right index finger aloft.
Williams moved closer to her eighth title at the All England Club and 24th Grand Slam trophy overall — but first since missing more than a year while having a baby — by beating 52nd-ranked Camila Giorgi of Italy 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
Next up for the 36-year-old American is a match against No. 13 seed Julia Goerges of Germany, a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner against No. 20 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.
The other semifinal Thursday will be No. 11 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany vs. No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. Kerber needed seven match points to close out No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3, 7-5 at Centre Court, while Ostapenko defeated 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 7-5, 6-4 on a windy No. 1 Court.
In the last men’s quarterfinal, which was suspended because of darkness after the third set Monday night, 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro defeated Gilles Simon of France 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5).
LAS VEGAS (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is certain that changes are coming to the league.
Some are easy, others, not so much.
Speaking after the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting, Silver said he thinks the league is ready to scrap the rule requiring players to be out of high school for a year before becoming eligible to enter the draft. That one should be relatively simple to move forward now, while notions such as how to find more competitive balance are still a puzzler to the league and its commissioner.
Silver said he loves ‘where the league is right now,’ but believe there cold be a better system. Part of that, he thinks, will be reverting back to the policy that will allow players to go into the league right out of high school — something that should be in place in time for the 2021 NBA Draft, though that timeline has not been formally announced.
Any change to the rule will require that the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement will have to be amended.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Michele Roberts was unanimously re-elected to another four-year term as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.
Roberts first moved into the role in 2014, about two years before the players and the league agreed on the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The extension means that Roberts will almost certainly be deeply involved in negotiating whatever the next CBA will look like.
The union was without an executive director for more than a year before Roberts got the job, and she said overcoming the skepticism of players — who were reeling after the way Billy Hunter’s term as director came to a turbulent end — was critical to her success.
Her second term will end in 2022, when both the players and the league can decide to opt out of the current CBA. She said the union is already preparing for what the next CBA will look like.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL Players Association filed a grievance with the league challenging its national anthem policy.
The union says that the new policy, which the league imposed without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on players’ rights. The filing met a statute of limitations deadline and will be heard by an independent arbitrator, an NFLPA spokesman said.
In May, the NFL approved its national anthem policy at its owners meetings in Atlanta. The policy allows players to protest during the national anthem by staying in the locker room, but forbids them from sitting or taking a knee if they’re on the field or the sidelines. Teams will be subject to fines if players don’t comply and will have the option of punishing players.
When the league announced the policy, Commissioner Roger Goodell called it a compromise aimed at putting the focus back on football after a tumultuous year in which television ratings dipped nearly 10 percent; some blamed the protests for such a drop. The union said at that time that it would file a grievance against any change in the collective bargaining agreement.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays unveiled an elaborate plan for a new domed stadium that would take them across Tampa Bay to the Ybor City section of Tampa at a cost of nearly $900 million.
The 30,842-seat stadium would be the smallest in Major League Baseball and would be covered by a fully enclosed and translucent roof, not a retractable dome.
Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Rays since 2005, called the plan “a dramatic break from the past” and explained the blueprint as the franchise’s latest attempt to make a long-term commitment to the region.
The Rays have consistently ranked near the bottom in attendance at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, about 20 miles away from the proposed new site.
No plans were revealed about stadium financing. The Rays, now in their 21st season in the American League, made the presentation partly to solicit corporate support.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year contract extension worth an average of $9.5 million in salary and annual bonuses.
The 25-year-old would have been a restricted free agent next summer with one year left on a deal that will pay him nearly $4.8 million for the 2018-19 season. Now he will be under contract through the 2026-27 as the team’s highest-paid player once the extension kicks in after next year.
The two-time All-Star had 39 goals and 100 points with a plus-15 rating last season. He was third in the NHL in points, sixth in assists and tied for ninth in goals. He averaged 19:49 in ice time to lead all forwards for the Lightning, who lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to Washington.