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Osaka Does It Again, Sends Serena Williams Back Home

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Osaka Does It Again, Sends Serena Williams Back Home

Naomi Osaka made it through to the Australian Open final by ending Serena Williams’ latest bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title on Thursday.

Osaka, who won the US Open last year, is now on course to make it back to back Grand Slam titles as she overcame a nervous start to wrap up a hugely impressive 6-3 6-4 win over the 39-year-old American to make it 20 wins in a row, while Jennifer Brady withstood late drama to defeat Karolina Muchova and reach her first major final.

 

It was another setback for Williams as she once again came up short in her 10th attempt to move level with Margaret Court’s haul of major titles.

Osaka, whose last defeat came on February 7, 2020, said on court: “I was really nervous and scared in the beginning but I eased my way into it.

“It was about having fun and it was the first day having a crowd for a while. It’s an honour to play her and I didn’t want to go out really bad so I just tried my best.

“I was a little kid watching her play so coming up against her on the court for me is a dream.”

Asked how she was reading the Williams serve so well, she shrugged: “I was just guessing. It’s either going this way or that way.”

The numbers were in Williams’ favour; the American had won all her previous eight semi-finals at Melbourne Park, had not lost to a top-three player at a Grand Slam since 2007, and had beaten Osaka in their last two meetings to gain a measure of revenge for her acrimonious defeat in the 2018 US Open final.

Perhaps mindful of that, Osaka looked uncharacteristically tight at first in front of a limited crowd, allowed back in after Victoria’s five-day coronavirus lockdown was lifted.

She struggled with her ball toss in the direct sunlight and double-faulted on her way to dropping serve in the opening game.

Williams, by contrast, began with an ace and a confident hold before Osaka wriggled out of another break point, an ace getting her on the board.

That seemed to click the 23-year-old into gear, and as her timing returned Williams’ deserted her, the first set quickly disappearing as Osaka won five games in a row and held her nerve to serve it out at the tricky end.

A sizzling crosscourt backhand secured another break for Osaka at the start of the second with Williams becoming more animated, at one point bellowing “make the shot” at herself.

Osaka had won eight out of nine games before Williams could stem the bleeding with a hold for 1-2.

A nasty dose of the Osaka jitters allowed Williams back in for 4-4, but the third seed promptly broke back to love and this time nervelessly wrapped up victory in an hour and 15 minutes.

READ ALSO: No Mercy For Messi As Mbappe Breaks 23 Years Record

Williams gave the crowd inside the Rod Laver Arena a long wave goodbye with her hand on her heart, prompting questions about whether she would be coming back.

In her post-match press conference, the 39-year-old responded: “I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone. So…”

She then made an abrupt and emotional departure from the room after breaking down in tears.

“It was a big error day for me today,” she told reporters.

Asked if it was just a bad day at the office, Williams said: “I don’t know. I’m done,” before leaving the room in tears.

She later took to social media to convey a message to her Australian fans, which said: “Melbourne and my Australian fans. Today was not ideal outcome or performance but it happens. I am so honored to be able to play in front of you all. Your support your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today. I am forever in debt and grateful to each and everyone single one of you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you.”

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Tinubu Approves N70,000 Minimum Wage

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BREAKING: Dogara, Babachir Lead Northern Christians Against Tinubu's Muslim-Muslim Ticket

By John Michael Ojo

The Federal Government on Thursday, pegged the new national minimum wage at N70,000.

This was made known by Mr Bayo Onanuga, a Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, in a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“President Bola Tinubu has approved N70,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers with promise to review the national minimum wage law every three years.

“President Tinubu also promised to find ways to assist the private sector and the sub-nationals to pay the minimum wage.

“President Tinubu announced the decisions at the meeting held with leaders of TUC and NLC on Thursday in Abuja, the second time the parties met in 7 days,” the statement read.

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Olaopa Urges Youths To Shun Japa Syndrome, Prepare For Leadership

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Prof. Tunji Olaopa flanked by Hon Abike Dabiri (left )and Prof. Oladapo Afolabi , former Head of Service of the Federation ( right) at the event on Thursday.

The Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Prof. Tunji Olaopa, has urged youths to prepare for leadership positions early in life instead of travelling overseas to seek opportunities, a development that is popularly known as the Japa syndrome.

The seasoned bureaucrat and former federal permanent secretary said that opportunities abound for youths but that they could only access them when they begin early .

According to Olaopa who spoke on Thursday during the 2023/2024 graduation of KIA Lakeside Academy in Abuja, these opportunities will elude the youths if they opt to go and wander on the streets of foreign countries. He said : ” In the civil service I am very familiar with, people grow old and retire every day. We need youths to fill such vacancies that the old people leave behind . If all the youths go abroad to be doing menial jobs, do we go to Ghana and other neighbouring countries to employ their youths?

Prof. Tunji Olaopa and Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, former Head of Service of the Federation at the event.

He said that under his leadership of the Federal Civil Service, there is so  much hope for youths to access federal jobs. He said he had decided to maintain a policy of transparency and equity in making jobs in the civil service available for all eligible Nigerian youths through open advertisement.

He said in the area of political leadership, the older generation could not keep on dominating the sector. He said that the youths would be need to replace the old political leaders as they quit the scene.

According to him, the ability to prepare early for leadership goes hand in hand with a clear vision. He said nobody could prepare for anything if there is no clear vision of where they are going or what they want.

He said people who reach great heights in life always have a clear vision of where they are going early in life and they work towards it. He gave the example of former United States President Bill Clinton who as a youth had a clear vision of being his nation’s leader.

According to Olaopa, past and current leaders in Nigeria have had early in their youths clear visions of what they want in life. He said it was this clear visions early in life that made them trailblazers in different areas of life. In politics he cited Chief Obafemi Awolowo , Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and others. He said that these were trailblazers in their youth. He said in business, young people have become trailblazers.

He said that because of the opportunities the current world offers, youths do not need to become old people before reaching great heights in life. According to him, youths have become trailblazers in technology . He mentioned the examples of Zuckerberg of Facebook, Elon Musk and a younger Bill Gates.

Talking about breaking the glass ceiling, Olaopa said that no gender barrier should stop anyone from reaching the summit of life. He said many women in the past and the present have been trailblazers. He mentioned Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. Dora Akunyili,l and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. He said unlike in the past , many bank CEOs in Nigeria are currently women.

However, Olaopa said that nobody could be a trailblazer without preparation. He said this preparation comes in the form of education. He quoted Nelson Mandela who once observed that “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” He said if in the past people we regard as great today could get education despite the huge barriers they were faced with, youths of today have no excuse. He said Awolowo was faced with a huge educational disadvantage which he overcame by studying at home . He said Azikiwe had to find his way overseas where he suffered to educate himself. According to him, one of the greatest lawyers today in Nigeria is Chief Afe Babalola. He said Babalola overcame his challenges by studying at home and that today he owns one of the best universities in the country.

According to him, youths who lack the opportunity of going to formal university classrooms can avail themselves of the opportunities offered by the open university system that the Federal Government supports .

He said that in fact President Bola Tinubu has demonstrated his interest in the education of the less-privileged through his government’s Student loan scheme. He said that youths who desire to acquire university education but have no sponsors can use that scheme.

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Tinubu Appoints Walson-Jack Head Of Service As Yemi-Esan Retires

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Walson-Jack

As the current Head of Service Folasade Yemi-Esan, CFR, is due to retire on August 13, 2024, President Bola Tinubu has approved her replacement. She is Mrs. Didi Esther Walson-Jack.

Mrs. Walson-Jack was appointed as Federal Permanent Secretary in 2017 and has served in several Ministries.

While thanking Yemi-Esan  for her stewardship, President Tinubu tasked the incoming Head of Service to discharge her duties with innovative flair, integrity, and stringent adherence to the extant rules and regulations of the Civil Service of the Federation.

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