Sports Shorts: Venus Williams, Tomas Berdych bare it all
Tennis stars Venus Williams and Tomas Berdych have posed naked for ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue.
According to USA Today, the 34-year-old American professional tennis player, who is seen naked in the magazine, also opened up about her fight with Sjogren's syndrome, which leaves her fatigued and forces her to make concessions in training.
Berdych has also bared all, becoming the second men's ATP player featured in the magazine, joining American John Isner.
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Image: Venus Williams of the United States
Photographs: Al Bello/Getty Images
Bilbao midfielder Herrera in big-money move to United
Midfielder Ander Herrera has joined Manchester United on a four-year deal from La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, the Premier League side announced on Thursday.
Bilbao said earlier that they had rejected a bid for the 24-year-old from United valued at around 36 million euros ($49 million), the same as his buyout fee, but the transfer was concluded later in the day.
"Signing for Manchester United is a dream come true," the Spaniard told the club website (www.manutd.com). "I played at Old Trafford for Athletic in the Europa League and it was one of the highlights of my career so far.
"I have joined United to do all I can to help the team reach the club's objectives. I’m excited to now be living in Manchester and I can’t wait for my first game in United’s famous red shirt."
Herrera spent three seasons at Bilbao after joining his hometown club from Real Zaragoza in 2011. He helped them qualify for the Champions League next season, a competition his new club will miss out on after they finished seventh in the Premier League.
United attempted to buy Herrera last year under then-manager David Moyes but the bid ended in farce amid media reports that three men attempting to broker the deal were imposters.
"Ander is a fantastic young player with great energy and creativity," said Ryan Giggs, assistant to new manager Louis van Gaal.
"We believe him to be one of the brightest young prospects in Spain and I am certain he will be a big hit with the United fans. I’m delighted he has made the decision to come to Manchester and play his part in the club's future."
Herrera has been capped at age-group level for Spain but has not featured for the senior team.
Bilbao said the player had bought himself out of his contract.
"Athletic should aspire to have players whose first priority is to defend the club's shirt," president Josu Urrutia told Bilbao's website (www.athletic-club.net).
"In that sense Ander Herrera’s decision is not in line with this concept and is a disappointment for the club."
The deal is subject to international clearance and there is the option for the contract to be extended for a further year.
Bilbao were fourth in La Liga last season.
Image: Ander Herrera
Mancini early favourite to be next Italy coach
Former Inter Milan and ManchesterCity manager Roberto Mancini has emerged as the early favourite to be the next Italy coach after Cesare Prandelli resigned following the Azzurri’s World Cup exit on Tuesday.
Italy’s 1-0 defeat by Uruguay sent them out of the tournament following a loss to Costa Rica and a win over England in Group D and Prandelli said he took responsibility for the failure.
Influential daily newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport cited Mancini as the most likely to be offered the job along with former AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Mancini is available after leaving Turkish club Galatasaray this month and he has the backing of Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
“I think of the names being mentioned, Mancini is the most appropriate – he is relatively young but has experience. He has coached in Italy and internationally, he has won in Italy and abroad,” Mihajlovic, who was a team mate of Mancini’s at Lazio, told Gazzetta.
“The way he behaves, the way he is as man he is the right image for Italy as well. Maybe after all the years of daily work he would be ready for a different role,” said Mihajlovic, who said he had not spoken to the coach.
Mancini, who won the Premier League with City and Serie A with Inter, might have to take a lower salary than in club football and that could be a sticking point.
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Image: Robert Mancini
Photographs: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Woods feels 'great' in Congressional tune-up
Tiger Woods said he felt "great" after playing the Quicken Loans National Pro-Am on Wednesday at Congressional Country Club where he will return to competition on Thursday following a three-month absence.
"Which is a really good sign," the former long-time world number one added about his comeback after surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his back.
Woods is set to tee off in Thursday's opening round with emerging 20-year-old American Jordan Spieth and Australian Jason Day in the morning wave at 8:12 am ET (1212 GMT).
Woods was a bit rusty in the Pro-Am, making one birdie and a single bogey, but the winner of 79 PGA Tour events, including 14 major championships, was basically pleased.
"Generally it feels good," said Woods, who on Tuesday told reporters he felt more pain-free than he had in two years. "I hit some loose shots today but I also hit some really good ones."
Woods, host of the Quicken Loans tournament which benefits his charity foundation, said Congressional was no easy test.
"This golf course is playing tough," Woods said of the site of the 2011 U.S. Open. "The guys aren't going to go really low here."
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Image: Tiger Woods
Photographs: Harry How/Getty Images
Barcelona sign Chile goalkeeper Bravo from Sociedad
Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has signed a four-year deal to join Barcelona from Real Sociedad, the Catalan club said on Wednesday.
"I am happy and calm with this transfer," Bravo told reporters from the Chile camp at the World Cup in Brazil.
"It is a big step in my career and I am very proud of having taken that step, but this is not the time to talk about my transfer," he told reporters ahead of Chile's World Cup round of 16 clash against hosts Brazil on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Chile captain spent eight years at Sociedad and has started in all three of his country's Group B matches at the World Cup in Brazil.
"At 1.85 metres tall, Claudio Bravo is noted for his calmness between the posts, his leadership skills, and lots of agility," Barcelona said in a statement as they added a second goalkeeper to their squad since the end of last season.
"Since 2008, he has been the captain of Chile and at Real Sociedad he became one of the natural leaders of a team that in recent years have done really well in La Liga."
Barcelona's regular keeper Victor Valdes left at the end of last season, 12 years after his first-team debut, and the side have already moved to recruit Borussia Monchengladbach's Marc-Andre ter Stegen during the transfer window.
Image: Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo of Chile gestures
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images