Iran’s only female Olympic medallist, Kimia Alizadeh, says she has defected. Alizadeh, 21, posted on social media that she had left Iran because she didn’t want to be part of “hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery”. She described herself as “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran”. Alizadeh did not say where she was, amid reports that she has been training in the Netherlands. She made history for Iran in 2016 when she won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the Rio Olympics.
Serena Williams won her first title in three years and first since becoming a mother with victory over Jessica Pegula at the Auckland Classic. The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion beat her fellow American 6-3 6-4. It is the 38-year-old’s first singles title since she won the Australian Open in 2017 and her 73rd WTA title overall.
US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has withdrawn from the Australian Open in Melbourne as she continues her recovery from a knee injury. The Canadian, ranked sixth in the world, picked up the injury at the season-ending WTA Finals in October. Andreescu beat Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows in September to win her maiden Grand Slam title.
Malaga have sacked head coach Victor Sanchez four days after he was suspended following the publication of an explicit video of the 43-year-old on social media. The Spanish second-tier side said Sanchez had been dismissed for “disciplinary reasons”, adding that they had been unable to agree terms on a mutual termination of his contract. “Malaga took this decision in consideration of the serious harm the recent non-sporting events have done to the club,” a club statement added.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed its interest in hosting the 2020 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad told the French radio station RFI that Equatorial Guinea are also interested in hosting the event. CAF is in a race to find a host for the finals after Congo-Brazaville pulled out of the hosting of the 12-team event last year.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic said scoring his first goal for AC Milan since rejoining the club made him “feel alive” as his side eased past Cagliari in Serie A. Rafael Leao had given the Rossoneri the lead just after half-time before Ibrahimovic, starting for the first time since his return, doubled their advantage with a left-footed strike. The former LA Galaxy and Sweden striker had another goal ruled out for offside. “I’ll celebrate like a God at San Siro, not here,” Ibrahimovic said.