4:06 pm - Wednesday November 4, 2015

Serena Williams wins WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE: Serena Williams beat Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0 Sunday to win her third-successive title at the WTA Finals – and her fifth overall.

Halep easily beat Williams just four days earlier during the group stage of the tournament, but Williams turned that around with an aggressive game plan that unsettled the Romanian player.

Williams won 11 of the last 12 games in the match to join Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf as the only players to have won five titles in the season-ending championships.

The 33-year-old American pulled out of her previous two tournaments with illness and a knee injury, yet still claimed the $2 million first prize.

“I just started training, because I had such a bad knee in Beijing I didn’t know if I’d be able to play here, and now I have won the Billie-Jean King trophy – I am so excited,” Williams said.

The match was the most one-sided championship match in the WTA Finals since Kim Clijsters beat Amelie Mauresmo 6-2, 6-0 in 2003.

“It was an amazing week so I can’t be too sad that I lost,” Halep said. “Congratulations to Serena, you are the best.”

Halep got the first break of the match in the third game and looked capable of repeating the surprise 6-0, 6-2 victory she recorded over Williams on Wednesday, but in the next game Williams broke back at her third opportunity and the course of the match was set.

Williams changed her game plan from the group-stage contest, attacking Halep’s second serve with fierce ground strokes, and regularly rushed the net to cut the points short and prevent the Romanian playing her preferred style.

Williams had 25 winners against just five by her opponent.

 

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After U.S. President Barack Obama raised the issue of religious intolerance in India, The New York Times published a very strong editorial criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for what it calls his “dangerous silence” on a series of communal events in the country.The editorial, by the NYT editorial board, lists recent attacks on churches and reports of Ghar Vapsi or conversion and marks out the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) for its proposed conversions programme in Ayodhya in March this year, saying the group “was playing with fire.” “Mr. Modi’s continued silence before such troubling intolerance increasingly gives the impression that he either cannot or does not wish to control the fringe elements of the Hindu nationalist right,” the NYT editorial surmised.Full text of the Editorial published in the New York Times on February 6, 2015:What will it take for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak out about the mounting violence against India’s religious minorities? Attacks at Christian places of worship have prompted no response from the man elected to represent and to protect all of India’s citizens. Nor has he addressed the mass conversion to Hinduism of Christians and Muslims who have been coerced or promised money. Mr. Modi’s continued silence before such troubling intolerance increasingly gives the impression that he either cannot or does not wish to control the fringe elements of the Hindu nationalist right.Recently, a number of Christian churches in India have been burned and ransacked. Last December, St. Sebastian’s Church in East Delhi was engulfed in fire. Its pastor reported a strong smell of kerosene after the blaze was put out. On Monday, St. Alphonsa’s Church in New Delhi was vandalised. Ceremonial vessels were taken, yet collection boxes full of cash were untouched. Alarmed by the attacks, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has urged the government to uphold the secular nature of India and to assure its Christians they are “protected and secure” in their own country.There is also concern about the mass conversions. Last December, about 200 Muslims were converted to Hinduism in Agra. In January, up to 100 Christians in West Bengal “reconverted” to Hinduism. Hard-line Hindu nationalist groups, like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), make no secret of their support for a “homecoming” campaign designed to “return” non-Hindus to the fold. More than 80 per cent of Indians are Hindu, but Pravin Togadia of the VHP says his organisation’s goal is a country that is 100 per cent Hindu. The only way to achieve that is to deny religious minorities their faith.The VHP is reportedly planning a mass conversion of 3,000 Muslims in Ayodhya this month. The destruction of the Babri Mosque there in 1992 by Hindu militants touched off riots between Hindus and Muslims across India that left more than 2,000 people dead. The VHP knows it is playing with fire.Mr. Modi has promised an ambitious agenda for India’s development. But, as President Obama observed in a speech in New Delhi last month: “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith.” Mr. Modi needs to break his deafening silence on religious intolerance.

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