Bipolar Management (Tricky Business)

Oli Jones   |   April 19, 2016    8:20 AM ET

Bipolar really is manageable - six weeks of sleep deprivation (Almost slipped but back on track).

Almost a year ago to the day, my recovery from Bipolar disorder was about to start. I was prescribed lithium which started to work almost immediately and since then, bar the odd few days, my mood and my life has been the most stable for 13 years.

However the last six weeks have provided me with a real test and have proved as a stark reminder of how my condition must continue to be managed and probably will have to be for the rest of my days.

Around six weeks ago, my sleep really started to suffer. Prior to this I had been sleeping really well getting on average 6-8 hours per night and there was no sign of any change. However, something clearly switched in my brain and body and I started to get less and less sleep. After a few weeks, some nights I was not sleeping at all, however I didn't feel that my mood was changing. A lack of sleep for me can often indicate an upturn in mood and can signify a shift to mania. I am aware of this, but as I stated, initially I didn't feel any shift in mood.

The lack of sleep persisted and suddenly I found myself with bundles of energy, my mind was racing and believe me, this is fun, but left untreated is very dangerous.

I had to cut right down on the amount of exercise that I was doing (which frustrated me highly) as contrary to popular belief, intense exercise could have stimulated my body and mind even more and therefore exasperating the problem. I also had to increase the amount of medication to help me sleep.

Along with the frustration of not being able to do what I wanted to do, other elements of my life started to deteriorate. My diet became erratic and my sleeping patterns where all over the place. Fortunately everybody at my place of work, Brooklands Sports Club, are aware of my Bi Polar and the majority of people understood that I had to take a back seat for a few weeks, often taking a few days off to manage my deteriorating sleep patterns. I had great support as always but some people just did not understand. Is oli ill? Is he going to be off work for months? If he's feeling slightly high, why is he taking time off? These are valid questions, because that is what has happened in the past.

The support has been outstanding as ever but still the nagging doubts arise from certain key people. It is very difficult for people living without mental illness to understand it, try as they might. Am I expecting people to understand it and feel sorry for me? No. Absolutely not.
There have been, as ever, lots of messages of support via text, email and phone calls which are amazing to receive and really do help.

As this episode of hardly sleeping continued, people around me and I, myself, became more and more frustrated resulting in me regretting some of my actions and being rueful of some of the things I've said. I like to think of myself as a fairly thoughtful and caring person but I have not covered myself in glory with my behaviour over the last couple of weeks and for that I am sorry. I am no angel.

Then, last week, my sleep improved. I had a quick trip over to Cleethorpes for some fresh sea air and a change of scenery and I sit here today feeling much more like myself.

I have not had to take months off work, I have not had the inevitable depression that follows a high and in the last few days, I have been running and been to the gym, played tennis and feel great. Last night I got 7 hours sleep which feels magic.

I feel a huge sense of achievement as I feel that this is the first time I have had to really manage my condition, adapting my lifestyle to reflect where my mood is. Did everybody agree with how I managed it? No. Could I have done it better? Of course. We can all do everything better. I live and learn.

Game, Set and Mismatch: Is Djokovic Missing the Point?

Beckie Middleton   |   March 22, 2016    9:13 PM ET

Prize money should be "fairly distributed" according to "who attracts more attention, spectators and who sells more tickets"

In the name of fairness, before I get stuck into this topic I do want to spare a thought for Novak Djokovic. He probably just wanted to answer a few questions about the tournament he'd won, humbly pay his beaten opponent some compliments and get out of the press room to enjoy his victory. Instead - and with no small thanks to the idiotic comments of the Indian Wells tournament CEO - a journalist threw him a grenade. Novak was tired and sweaty and his footwork hadn't let him down all week. But instead of a deft sidestep, a "No comment," or an "I don't really want to talk about that right now," he slipped. He's allowed to voice his opinion, of course. It's just that an opinion on this particular topic is always going to cause a bit of a stir.

As usual, I'm not planning to burn my bra or march to Westminster over this. Djokovic's words might hold some truth and I think it's important to consider these arguments too. On the face of it, there is a certain degree of logic to his answer. As an entertainment-hungry public, we are prepared to pay a premium to see superstars perform. It would be good to have a situation where lower ranked performers find themselves in a more financially viable position to climb the ladder, but it's pretty easy to admit I'd pay more to watch a top player than an average one. There's no doubt that supply and demand have an impact on sportspeople's earning potential - if you attract more attention, maybe you should be paid more. However, I'd argue that ultimately this is more about your profile as an athlete and your ability to attract endorsements. We're talking about prize money - should the 'attention' you receive really impact on how much you're paid in the same way your results do?

Of course, it's still going to be a bit difficult for many people to digest without raising an eyebrow. Does a man who has now earned almost $100 million in career prize money alone need an extra few hundred thousand dollars here or there? The counter argument is easy: you should be paid what you deserve. Top tennis players work in an arena where enormous financial rewards are available. Don't forget that as spectators, we create this by paying for Sky TV and devouring the sports pages - but the 'morality' of this lucrative environment is a discussion for another time.

For me, the biggest discussions Djoko's comments raise are around this concept of fairness. How can we measure "fair distribution" accurately? Should we rely on a stereotypical inclination to assume that more people buy tickets to watch men's tennis, or should we focus on the fact that the women's 2015 US Open final sold out more quickly than the men's? Every single Grand Slam singles final for both genders is always played in front of a capacity crowd. As spectators, do we bank on a battle between Djokovic and Andy Murray being better, or do we buy into the frequently enthralling unpredictability of a match in the women's tournament?
...An erudite friend of mine summed that up perfectly: "While I love Andy Murray as much as the next one-eyed Scot, the men's [2016] Aussie Open final was worth about a fiver. The women's final, on the other hand, was an absolute cracker."

The other problem as I see it is that Djokovic's statement is too focused on 'now'. Let's imagine a world where men and women live, work, speak, aspire and are perceived completely equally. In that world, if men's tennis truly generates more attention and sells more tickets, then maybe it would be reasonable to consider allocating prize money on the basis of gender. But we don't live in that world. It's all well and good making an offhand statement that people prefer men's tennis, but whether or not it is true, in an environment where it's still pushed more, broadcast more, talked about more, that doesn't automatically mean it should be "worth" more. And perhaps more importantly, shouldn't we be concerned about creating and supporting an environment that allows change and enables players' potential to be realised regardless of their gender?

A great rivalry, an intense battle or a superhuman performance on a sports field isn't determined by whether you're a man or a woman. At the moment though, the number of column inches and the amount of discussion about these things does tend to be shaped by the gender of the players involved. Maybe as the guy who wins the most tournaments and sells more than his fair share of tickets, Djokovic has a legitimate claim that money in tennis could be allocated more fairly according to these criteria. But is that because he's Novak Djokovic, or because he's a man? Without a magical way to measure what 'fairly' really means in tennis, sport and on a wider scale, life, I'd argue that gender simply isn't a wise yardstick to use.

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Djokovic Double Faulted in Reopening Can of Worms That Should Have Stayed Shut

Gabriel Samuels   |   March 22, 2016    4:33 PM ET

Just when it seemed that anyone who wasn't a troll or rooted in the past had moved on from the debate over whether male and female tennis players should have equal pay, Novak Djokovic just had to go stick his size-nine foot right in it.

I don't think I was alone in being deeply disappointed, as the world Number 1 always came across one of the good guys - although now I'm thinking that perception may have been misplaced.

A sinewy beast on the court, the Djoker has always been a diplomatic - and seemingly liberal - presence off it. He has stood up for charitable causes after natural disasters, and has grown into a worthy ambassador of his sport and its universal graces.

He regularly tweets positive things like 'We, young generations are standing on the shoulders of giants' - which he sent to Billie Jean King - and 'Let's use our voice to do good for this world'. It's just a shame he couldn't follow his own advice on that last one.

Novak is typically at his slick best during press conferences - measured in his thoughts, wise in his words and likeable in his opinions. As with his performances on court, stumbles are few and far between.

Yet this time, seemingly for no reason at all, he chose to flail his way into the issue of equal pay between men and women - a row which has been flogged to death, and which didn't belong in 21st century sport in the first place.

What on earth could he have meant - that men should be paid more? Or women less?
After praising the good work of the WTA, why in God's name did he not just stop talking? How can someone who is 'completely for women's power' simultaneously harbour such outdated views?

The awkwardness after that moment was palpable. Djokovic fumbled, floundered and fought to express his opinions clearly but every way he said it, he seemed more and more like that slightly bigoted uncle who tries to make sense of 'womens' rights' after a couple of Merlots.

Then, in a moment that needed to be seen to be believed, he started barking on about women's 'hormones' and bodies 'being different' - prompting comedy "cut-it-out" hand gestures from the entire sane population of Planet Earth.

Quite rightly, his comments have prompted howls of outrage and disbelief from all quarters. Surely the best thing to do in this situation would be to simply ignore his short-sighted stance, even ridicule it.

But as he is the top male tennis player in the world and a huge star - accompanied by the usual responsibilities of being a role-model and a mouthpiece for his sport - the whole argument will be dusted off and cracked open for business once again.

Perhaps what is even more worrying is how this non-issue turns some liberal-minded men into raging, right-wing numbskulls - as evidenced by the reactions of certain individuals on Twitter today.

For the final time - continuing this debate will not be necessary. Yes, the men's circuit generates more money and has more followers than the women's; yes, men play five sets and women play three at grand slams, and per game women will thus get paid more.

These 'arguments' have well and truly passed their sell-by date. Winning Wimbledon is winning Wimbledon - success in tennis is not, and has never been, based on the amount of time a player spends on the court. End of discussion.

The pretty sizeable difference between 'equal work' and 'work of equal' value appears to still confuse some people. When said people appreciate the concept of value progression - that it is ability that should always count, and not 'hormones' or 'body differences' (in heavily inverted commas) - sport will be a better place for all.

The thought that the aspirations of a young and ambitious female tennis player could be dented by the injustices of being paid less than a man, simply because women's tennis is not quite as popular, is something that should never be an option.

All these things go without saying - and it's depressing that people have to say them once again. Believe what you like Novak - but next time stick to the day job you do so well.

Less Balls Please - Why Tennis Should Keep Pay Equal

Jenny Laville   |   March 21, 2016    3:38 PM ET

When is equal not equal? When it's tennis prize money apparently. Tennis is one of the few sports where the women's game is treated with the same gravity and reward as the men's. You'd have thought that this is something the tennis world would be proud of, but sadly, it's something that continues to be questioned more than it's celebrated.

It's probably not worth going into the comments made by Raymond Moore, Indian Wells CEO, on the subject recently because they were ridiculous involving 'coat-tails' and 'getting down on knees' and other such nonsense, which he retracted with an apology soon after. However his statement triggered questions asked to Novak Djokovic who makes a more interesting and coherent argument largely based on the same premise, but without the needless misogyny. Djokovic basically says, good on the women for working hard and getting equal pay, but men should ask for more money because they get more spectators.

Now the problem with this argument is that it is based on a transient quantity. As Chris Evert tweeted: 'Now is the Golden Era 4 men, no doubt, but women have worked, fought harder, and have been bigger draws many times.'

Serena Williams points out that she and her sister are massive draws to the game and that the women's final at the US Open sold out before the men's. Regardless of gender, some players are more interesting to watch or have more support than others. If prize money is based on ticket sales, why draw the distinction along gender-lines? Why not pay more to players bringing in a large home crowd, or the prettier players or the more dynamic players?

The fact is that 'bigger-draw' tennis players already earn more because of sponsorship and endorsements. This is where Djokovic's popularity-related pay is currently at work and it is far more responsive to the market-place than prize-money ever could be.

There is always the old argument that women should get a smaller prize because they play shorter three-set games rather than the standard men's five sets, which on the face of it sounds fair enough. However the WTA have repeatedly offered to play the longer game, but have been turned down by the ITA presumably because sport generally is moving towards shorter games to attract more spectators. Many people still maintain that these highly trained dedicated athletes couldn't handle five sets because they are female. Everyone knows that their breasts would fall off by the forth and if it went to a tie-breaker their wombs would explode.

Tennis governing bodies need a reality check, women don't run shorter distances in athletics or play on smaller pitches in football. The 3 sets/5 sets difference should be addressed, but not by restricting how long women can play and then docking their pay accordingly. Only nutters would argue that's fair and nutters shouldn't really be entertained in the debate *side-eye to Raymond Moore*.

If you are giving someone a lower rate of pay because of their gender, that is wrong. Djokovic may say it's based on popularity of players, but it's gender he is using as the dividing line, not gate receipts. Men and women tennis players get the same prize money because, as Djokovic acknowledges, they do more-or-less the same job. There are many who argue that there are significant differences in style of play not to mention length of game (take it up with the ITF), but I would compare the situation to modelling where, unusually women generally get more than men. Defenders of this disparity say that more demands are placed on female models in terms of weight, nudity etc, and that a woman's career is shorter, which is all true, but pay should be defined by the job not the gender, be it in the court or the catwalk.

Ultimately what is prize money for? It's not wage or profit sharing. It's to attract the best players and draw the biggest audience. If you raise the men's pot, what do you achieve? The same players will play, the same spectators will go, but you will have dramatically undermined the women's game, and lost one of the sports' greatest qualities- it's equality.

(And for everyone itching to tell me that it's 'fewer balls' - I'm using balls as an adjective.)

Novak Djokovic's Comment Shows Why a Business Case Perspective May Actually Harm Gender Equality

Jawad Syed   |   March 21, 2016    1:34 PM ET


In a controversial yet thought provoking comment, world number one Novak Djokovic has questioned equal prize money in tennis, suggesting men should be paid more as they have more spectators. Djokovic made these remarks after winning the BNP Paribas Open final on 20 March 2016. He said:

"Stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men's tennis matches. I think that is one of the... reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. As long as it is like that and there is data and stats available and information... upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed."

He further said that male players should follow in the footsteps of the female players who "fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand I think that our men's tennis world should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men's tennis matches. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve."

The comment can be analysed from two perspectives on diversity, i.e., business case and social justice case.

From a purely business perspective, the argument that 'the viewing statistics may be used to determine fair distribution of prizes at joint events' seems to be credible. This is broadly consistent with the human resource management principle of pay for performance or commission for sales.

However, the argument also highlights why a purely business perspective may not be enough to promote equality and diversity. Indeed, such perspective seems to ignore two interconnected issues:

(a) The historical stereotyping and disadvantage of women in all fields of life including sports; and

(b) Diversity of women and men. A neglect of gender diversity results in the sameness paradigm, which is problematic because women's and men's issues and life cycles are not and must not be treated as identical.

Interestingly while Djokovic alludes to physical differences between women and men ("Their bodies are much different to men's bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don't have to go through...the hormones and different stuff."), he does not mention the historical disadvantage that women have been sustaining since time immemorial until today due to these very differences. He seems to ignore that these differences need to be valued and accommodated to create greater equality and inclusion, instead of being used to reinforce and augment the existing gender gaps not only in sports but also in entertainment, employment, politics and leadership.

From a social justice perspective of diversity, it is unfair that women should be evaluated and paid less for their anatomical differences. The fact that hormones, implying period, do affect women's training and performance is not in dispute. However, life cycle and anatomical differences should not be used to penalise women, such as those women whose careers are adversely affected due to maternity leave and traditional family roles. Instead such differences should be valued and accommodated in organisational structures and routines. For example, an inclusive approach to gender diversity is reflected in Grand Slams where women play only three sets compared to men who are required to play five.

The fact that the resale prices of Wimbledon debenture seat tickets for men's finals' tickets are usually two to three times costlier than those for women's final is perhaps not only a measure of popularity but also indicates gender differences in total and disposable incomes. For example, in the UK the gender pay gap for median earnings of full-time employees is more than 9% and may be as high as 54% in top-level highest-paid jobs. Thus, ticket sales and viewership may reflect and reinforce social inequalities and stereotypes, and are a poor measure for actual performance.

There is also an issue of male vs. female binary which is at times emphasised at the cost of a complementary view of men and women. Indeed, many events are more successful when they combine women and men, which is why the trend has been toward combining rather than separating them.

Last but not least, there is also an issue of equity and class across the field, i.e., to distribute more money to the lower rungs of the sport. There is allegedly massive discrepancy between the top tier and lower tier earnings in Tennis and other sports which merits urgent attention.

Photo credits: By Tatiana from Moscow, Russia (via Wikimedia)

Sarah Harris1   |   March 21, 2016    9:08 AM ET

Novak Djokovic has found himself facing a deluge of criticism after weighing in with his view on equal pay in the world of tennis this weekend.

A huge number of people, including Labour MPs Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips, expressed their exasperation after the world number one questioned whether female players should be awarded equal prize money, although suggested that they deserved “respect” for going through “hormones and different stuff”.

The Serbian star said that men’s tennis pulls in more spectators, indicating that this meant it was acceptable for male players to be awarded more prize money.

Speaking after his victory at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, Djokovic said: "As long as it is like that and there is data and stats available and information... upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed."

However, he was quick to add that he had “tremendous respect” for female players, according to the Guardian, adding “Their bodies are much different to men’s bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to go into details. I have great admiration and respect for them to be able to fight on such a high level.

Equal pay in tennis

Women now earn equal prize money in the four major tennis tournaments.

Wimbledon was the last major to achieve gender parity, equalising the prizes in 2007.

The US open led the way in 1973, while the Australian Open followed in 2001 and Roland Garros in 2006.

 “Many of them have to sacrifice for certain periods of time, the family time or decisions that they make on their own bodies in order to play tennis and play professional sport. I have had a woman that was my coach and that was a huge part of my tennis career. I’m surrounded by women. I’m very happy to be married with one and to have a child. I’m completely for women power.”

However, his comments attracted a barrage of criticism on social media, with Labour MP Stella Creasy leading the charge:

Although some men claimed that since women play fewer sets, they should be paid less…

His comments come after a top tennis chief claimed that if he was a woman he would “go down every night on my knees” in thanks for male players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore said that the women’s WTA Tour “ride on the coat-tails of the men".

Moore added: "If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.”

He comments were slammed by Serena Williams as “offensive” and he later apologised.

Sarah Ann Harris   |   March 7, 2016    8:58 PM ET

Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been suspended from tennis after revealing she failed a drug test at the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old said she tested positive for meldonium, which she said she has been taking for 10 years for numerous health issues, the Associated Press reported.

Meldonium became a banned substance this year under the WADA code, and Sharapova claims she didn't notice its addition to the banned list.

Making the announcement at a news conference Monday in Los Angeles, the former world No. 1 said: “I know that with this, I face consequences."

maria sharapova

Maria Sharapova speaks at a news conference today

"I don't want to end my career this way, and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game."

Sharapova's penalties could range from a multiyear ban to a minimal sanction with no suspension if officials believe she made an honest mistake.

The International Tennis Federation announced a provisional suspension starting 12 March, Sky News reported.

"I have to take full responsibility for it," Sharapova said. "It's my body, and I'm responsible for what I put into it."


Sharapova said she tested positive in an in-competition test at the Australian Open, where she lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals on 26 January Sharapova hasn't played since while recovering from a forearm injury.

Meldonium, also known as mildronate, is a Latvian-manufactured drug popular for fighting heart disease in former Soviet Union countries. Several athletes have tested positive for the drug since it became illegal in January, including two Ukrainian biathletes and Russian cyclist Eduard Vorganov. Earlier Monday, Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova, a European champion ice dancer, told local media she had tested positive for meldonium.

Sharapova is a former world No 1 and is currently No. 7 in the WTA rankings after playing just three tournaments and the Fed Cup final in the last eight months since Wimbledon due to injuries. She dropped out of the upcoming BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last Thursday, citing injury.

Caribbean Retreats: The Coral Reef Club, Barbados

The Spa Spy   |   February 17, 2016    7:40 PM ET

Entering The Coral Reef Club, the first thing that strikes you are the lush green gardens surrounded by beautiful quaint white colonial buildings. The resort is set in 12 acres of tropical paradise with direct access to the Caribbean sea. The hotel has an elegant old school understated luxury - the clientele is well heeled and discerning. The spa is renowned as one of the finest in Barbados, and is truly an idyllic haven.

On arrival we were greeted by Cynthia O'Hara. The resort has been owned by the O'Hara family for over half a century and it maintains a friendly family atmosphere and a refined and personal service. Cynthia's love of nature is reflected in the fact that the rooms have names such as bougainvillea, gerbera and orchid rather than numbers.

As one would expect from a hotel that has earned its place as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, there are little touches which add to the experience; sorbets on the beach, clean towels in the morning and the evening, beautiful fresh flowers in your room on arrival, a selection of books to enjoy and luxurious White Company products in the beautiful bathrooms.


The Rooms
We stayed in a one bedroom luxury junior suite with a private terrace and beautiful view of the gardens and sea. Every part of the room exudes luxury - the style is very New England with clean white doors and shutters, forest inspired soft furnishings - there's a wonderful attention to detail.


The Spa
The Spa is housed within a more contemporary style building and is set within the tropical gardens. With waterfalls weaving throughout the spa the ambience is very tranquil. Fine sand sheers, soft creamy linens and woven grasscloths sit with coral stone walls and dark chocolate wood - the spa has a super-luxe feel. The open walkways emphasise that the exterior and interior are one and the open style of the spa creates a light, airy atmosphere. Facilities include an 'open sided' relaxation room, an outdoor hydro-pool, a thermal suite with a holistic crystal steam room and an invigorating experience shower. The spa lounge is a great place to chill - take a good book from your room and order a delicious spa smoothie.


The Treatment
The Caribbean Calm. Each treatment room has a private terrace so my treatment started in the open air. The therapist performed a cleansing foot ritual, using a rich lemongrass soap. This was followed by a classic Swedish massage and eye therapy treatment by Natura Bisse, which felt extremely soothing - my tired jet lagged eyes seemed to literally soak up the rich moisture. A great treatment for weary travellers as it reduces swelling, soothes tired muscles and combats eye bags.

Other Treatments:
Pineapple and Coconut Crème Brulee is designed to exfoliate sensitive dehydrated skin, rehydrate and create a golden glow. Oxygen Awakening is a facial designed to benefit skin that has been exposed to pollution - great after a long flight.

To Eat
The elegant restaurant overlooks the tranquil Caribbean sea and is led by Executive Chef, Graham Licorish. The buffet style breakfast offers an excellent choice and for dinner an a la carte menu is served. This changes daily and combines classical cuisine with Caribbean ingredients and flavours. Every Monday the hotel serves a West Indian/International buffet and Thursday is barbecue night, offering a great selection of grilled meat and fish.


Don't Miss
The complimentary tennis lessons with a visiting tennis pro.
The manager's cocktail party, which is hosted in the owner's personal villa on Monday evenings.
The Lone Star restaurant, a short taxi ride from the hotel, is a great spot to have dinner - Michael Winner deemed this the 'The Ivy of the Caribbean'.

The Deal
The hotel is one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The diverse collection of over 520 properties are found in 80 countries around the world, and match independently minded guests with the same spirited hotels. The Reservations for the hotel can be made online at, via the iPhone app, or calling a Small Luxury Hotels of the World reservations office.

Words: Amanda Camilleri

Amy Packham   |   February 2, 2016    3:25 PM ET

Novak Djokovic might have just won the Australian Open, but it's his toddler who has stolen the show.

The tennis star, who played against Andy Murray in the final match in Melbourne, was watched in awe by his son Stefan back at home in Serbia.

A seven second video, posted by Djokovic's wife Jelena on Twitter, shows Stefan pointing at his dad on the TV with excitement.


The toddler wasn't interested when Andy Murray came on screen

As soon as he recognises his dad, Stefan starts shouting "Mum" and runs up to the screen.

However he soon loses interest when a close-up of Andy Murray comes on screen.

Jelena tweeted the video with the caption: "We are watching mummy - daddy #teamdjokovic #nolefam #AusOpen #final."

The adorable video has been retweeted 3,200 times in two days since being uploaded on 31 January 2016.

Djokovic and his wife welcomed their son in October 2014. The couple have been together since 2006 and married in Montenegro in July 2014.


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Eve Hartley   |   January 27, 2016   11:20 AM ET

Becoming the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Jo Durie at the 1983 US Open is quite the super-human effort, so perhaps it shouldn't surprise that rising tennis star Johanna Konta was comparing herself one of Hollywood's most famous hitmen today.

Konta, who is making her debut in the main draw at the Australian Open in Melbourne, had a 6-4, 6-1 win over Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai earlier this morning.

Joining Andy Murray in the semifinals, it's the first time since the December 1977 version of the Australian Open that two British players - John Lloyd and Sue Barker that year - have advanced to the final four of any major.

After the match, the well-travelled Konta, ranked 47th in the world, was quizzed on her passport credentials.

Born in Australia but living in Britain since her early teens, the 24-year-old, also has Hungarian citizenship and calls herself a "tri-citizen."

johanna konta

Johanna Konta is through to the semi-finals of the Australian open

"I’m pretty much the female Jason Bourne," she joked.

Fellow Briton Murray also triumphed during his quarter final match, beating Spain's David Ferrer 6-6, 6-7, (5-7), 6-2, 6-3, marking his place in his sixth Melbourne semi-final.

The pair will play the next round on Friday, with Konta facing German seventh seed Angelique Kerber and Murray playing Canada's Milos Raonic.

Novak Djokovic and Federer will contest the other men's semifinal while six-time champion Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska will meet in the other women's semifinal, also on Thursday.


Sarah Ann Harris   |   January 23, 2016    9:35 AM ET

British tennis coach Nigel Sears - who is also Andy Murray’s father-in-law - was rushed to hospital on Saturday morning after collapsing during a match.

Sears, who coaches Ana Ivanovic, was watching the Serb’s Australian Open third-round match against Madison Keys when he was taken ill.

Medical staff arrived quickly on the scene as the match was halted and Sears was stretchered off.

nigel sears

Nigel Sears collapsed during Ana Ivanonic's third-round Australian Open match

Ivanovic could be seen looking distressed on court while medics attended to Sears.

The match was suspended but later recommenced.

Sears was said to be conscious as he was taken to hospital, the BBC reported.

nigel sears

Sears was stretchered away by medics

His son-in-law, whose wife Kim is expected their first child in the coming weeks, was playing on a nearby court and, unaware of Sears’ collapse, continued with his match against Joao Sousa.

Murray has previously said that he would leave the Open early if his wife goes into labour.

How Curious Bedfellows BBC And BuzzFeed Became A Perfect Media Match

Louise Ridley   |   January 18, 2016   11:50 AM ET

The BBC has teamed up with BuzzFeed News for a landmark investigation exposing evidence of tennis match-fixing, in a media move which has both excited and baffled commenters.

"BuzzFeed is hardly the place for serious journalist investigation" remarked one on Twitter, while another quipped that they were waiting for the signature '10 matches you didn't know were fixed' list-style article from BuzzFeed.

The BBC's own James Allen thought the partnership had "gotta be a first" for the decades-old broadcaster and the digital-born platform, but in fact it's not the first time they have formed what would appear to be an unlikely alliance.

In 2015, BuzzFeed worked with BBC Newsnight for an investigation which revealed the pressures on the charity Kids Company, starting one of the biggest charity scandals of the last decade.

At the time, the Evening Standard's Londoner's Diary gossip section called the two organisations "curious bedfellows".

"BuzzFeed, as any bored office worker knows, is a mine of listacles and cat pics," it noted, "but over the past year it has been on a mission to toughen up its news offering."

janine gibson

Buzzfeed's coverage of the joint investigation

Like many online success stories, BuzzFeed is now known for its serious news coverage just as much as its lists, last year hiring Heidi Blake, the former Sunday Times assistant editor, who won awards for uncovering allegations of bribery surrounding Qatar's bid for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Blake was just one of a series of heavyweight hires from more traditional media groups in the past year, which also included former Guardian deputy editor Janine Gibson, now Editor-In-Chief of BuzzFeed UK, Panorama journalist Jane Bradley, Guardian special projects editor James Ball and Sunday Times journalist Michael Gillard, who unmasked the powerful London crime boss Dave Hunt in 2013.

The Evening Standard piece mused on whether BuzzFeed's partnership with the BBC could "signify a new media axis" but the relationship isn't necessarily an easy partnership.

In an age when older media players still set the news agenda, but digital operations like The Huffington Post and Vice are growing rapidly and engaging younger audiences, the BBC and BuzzFeed have been less than friendly to each other.

BuzzFeed published a list of '27 Times BBC News Failed So Hard It Just Failed', pointing out the times when one presenter didn't turn up, and another mistook a pad of paper of an iPad.

Meanwhile the BBC pondered whether the existence of BuzzFeed means the 'death' of news. "If that is the future of journalism, heaven help us all," a BBC news piece said in 2013, lamenting the headlines like 'This Baby Elephant Being Reunited With His Dad is The Cutest Thing You'll See Today' and '9 celebrity tweets you missed today' that BuzzFeed and its siblings have become known for.

But in fact, established players and up-and-coming publishers have a lot to offer each other.

"Not surprisingly in these sorts of partnerships, there are benefits for both parties,” Jonathan Hewett, the Director of Interactive and Newspaper Journalism at City University tells The Huffington Post UK.

Hewett says for BuzzFeed, the benefits are perhaps obvious: it gets the brand boost associated with Britain's beloved broadcaster. “[Investigations] are not what BuzzFeed is best known for," he Hewett, "and that’s probably part of the reason for them partnering with the BBC.

"It gets them credibility and exposure as a serious journalism operation, not merely an organistion that’s know for doing 15 things you didn’t know your cat could do, or similar.”

But nimble publishers with digital skills have something to offer to the big boys too, Dominic Ponsford, the editor of media publication Press Gazette tells HuffPost UK.

“I think the BBC get a lot out of it because they’re getting some good exclusives, and the BBC doesn’t really break an awful lot of exclusives considering how big it is. It’s more of a broadcaster of record in a way and naturally cautious, perhaps.”

"For BuzzFeed, it’s good for them to be associated with such a good brand as the BBC, and also it means that the story maybe gets more traction than it would otherwise because people see the BBC’s name on it and then they immediately trust it."

tennis match fixing

The BBC's coverage of the joint investigation

BuzzFeed contributed intensive data analysis to the tennis match-fixing story, says Hewett. "There aren’t many people who can do that, or who can dedicate the time to do that.”

The BBC - not short on resources - could have done the investigation work, but teaming up with another publisher may have made more sense, Hewett says: "It was probably attractive for them to bring someone on because it was a massive scale thing."

"They were collecting odds on more than 26,000 tennis matches I think, over a six year period, from seven different bookmakers. They did a simulation that they ran more than 1 million times per player, and involved some professors of statistics from two universities.”

And for the broadcaster, partnering for a special project could have made sense economically too. “The BBC has been very much under financial pressure recently, [they have to consider] value for money so [this investigation means] they can say they partnered with someone to get better results for no more money,” says Hewett.

Both can share the increased audience reach of their combined platforms, too. "The BBC is traditionally strong in radio and TV, it's been all over their news broadcasts. BuzzFeed I’m sure will be getting lots of hits online from it.”

But behind the scenes, it may be that the BBC secretly craves the success that operations like BuzzFeed have has in attracting younger audiences.

janine gibson

Gibson, the Guardian's ex-Deputy Editor, now Editor-In-Chief of BuzzFeed UK

In November, it was revealed that BBC staff have been told to copy 'youth-friendly' media like Vice when they make videos. New guidelines tell the BBC journalists to act like a "friend" to the viewer in "snappy" films of up to 90 seconds long, designed to be viewed on smartphones.

Investigative journalism lends itself to collaborations, explains Hewett: "Lots of investigative work is painstaking, it takes a long time, its resource intensive, and with some big stories it is international, so you need to involve different organisations around the world.”

“You quite often see broadcasters partnering with newspapers for investigations – Dispatches and Panorama often do joint investigations," says Ponsford.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a not-for-profit which shares its findings for free, often works with others and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a global network of 185 reporters in more than 65 countries who collaborate on in-depth pieces.

Ponsford thinks partnerships between journalists usually rise above any organisational rivalries: "As far as they’ve concerned they are professionals who have got the same goal in sight that’s mutually beneficial."

In fact, Hewett thinks that's possible that 'new' media outlets could one day reach the notoriety of 'old' players with traditional origins, like newspapers or the BBC, but he believes it's more likely that the two will become indistinguishable as they each evolve to take on the best characteristics of the other.

"I suppose the differentiation between new and old media, if you like, is disappearing," he says. "The BBC does a lot of might be called new media, like cutting-edge work online and on social media.”

Ponsford expects to more collaborations between digital and traditional media, but "only where don’t really directly compete".

He notes that although the BBC and BuzzFeed compete for online traffic, they don't compete commercially because of the BBC's not-for-profit model. “Obviously the BBC’s non-commercial, so I guess you can see why that works. I’d probably be surprised to see BuzzFeed partner with, say, the Guardian or the Telegraph, because online they are basically competing with each other for advertising.”

Read the BuzzFeed report in full

Read the BBC report in full

Latest Scandals Show We Have to Get Serious About Sports Crime

Damian Collins   |   January 18, 2016   10:26 AM ET

Tennis is now the latest sport in the spotlight, following allegations in an investigation by the BBC and BuzzFeed, of a match-fixing and gambling scandal involving a core group of 16 players, all of whom have ranked in the top 50 in the world. Some of these players are currently competing in the Australian Open championship. This investigation has put the tennis authorities, and the 'Tennis Integrity Unit' in the firing line, and as you would expect they deny that they have failed to act in the face of allegations of corruption.

Yet the truth is that in tennis, and most other major sports, only a small amount of resource is invested in fighting corruption. They are simply no match for the organised crime gangs, international gambling syndicates, and greedy dishonest officials. Sports governance has become a wild west, but we need more than a lone ranger to combat it.

Sports leaders have simply not invested enough in protecting the integrity of their competitions. Sadly, the members of these ruling executives seem typically to fall into three broad categories when it comes to corruption. Firstly, the blissfully ignorant who ask no questions, secondly those who know there is a problem but don't know what to do about it, and finally the wrongdoers themselves. There are a few noble exceptions who try to lobby within their sport for more resources and action against criminality, but they often end up resigning in disgust.

If we are going to clean up international sport we need a totally different approach, requiring more investment, partnership between sports and co-operation with international law enforcement agencies. At the heart of this should be a new Sports Crime Unit, employing specialists with deep understanding and experience of how organised crime seeks to exploit sport.

Gambling syndicates looking to buy off sportsmen and administrators in order to fix outcomes in matches, and the eventual results, are unlikely to limit themselves to one sport. In the same way, someone looking to launder money through sporting contracts, may well be involved in other areas of financial crime. Law enforcement agencies, like the Serious Fraud Office in the UK, should also consider whether they need to bring in more specialist resources with expertise in sports crime. We should treat international sports crime as one of the major global challenges for tackling corruption and resource the fight against it accordingly.

As well as extra investment in the detection of sports crime, there should also be internationally recognised standards for the governance of major sports. What the recent scandals at FIFA and the IAAF, have in common is very weak governance. There was no real scrutiny of the actions of senior executives, and no effective internal mechanism for people to challenge the organisation over its failure to act against corruption. There needs to be proper independent scrutiny of and reporting on sports bodies, including how they investigate allegations of corruption and how their money is spent. There also need to be proper integrity checks for people who have leadership roles in sport, from those who sit on the international executive bodies, to people who have leadership roles at the national level and in major sports clubs.

Damian Collins is the Conservative MP for Folkestone & Hythe, and the co-founder of New FIFA Now

Sarah Ann Harris   |   January 18, 2016   10:24 AM ET

Novak Djokovic has said that he was offered $200,000 (£140,000) to throw a match, as more details emerge about an alleged match-fixing scandal in the tennis world.

The world number one said that he was offered the sum to fix a first-round match in St Petersburg in 2007, the Guardian reported.

He explained: “I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team. Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn’t even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.

novak djokovic

Novak Djokovic has spoken out about match-fixing allegations

“Unfortunately there were some, in those times, those days, rumours, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar.

“I personally was never approached directly, so I have nothing more to say about that.”

Claims of match-fixing have rocked the world of tennis as the names of a number of top players - including Grand Slam champions and Wimbledon competitors - have been flagged.

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has been made aware of the names of 16 players over the last decade amid fears they have thrown matches, according to an investigation by the BBC and BuzzFeed.


The match-fixing was allegedly orchestrated by gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy and involved prominent players, the Press Association reported.

Serena Williams also weighed in on the scandal, saying that she had not seen any signs of it.

ABC reported that she said: “"I can only answer for me. I play very hard and every player that I play seems to play hard.

"As an athlete I do everything I can to be, not only great, but historic and if that's going on, I don't know about. Sometimes I'm in a bubble."

Andy Murray tweeted a link to Buzzfeed's report but did not add any further comment.