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Saturday Sports: Wimbledon, Women's World Cup

Jul 6, 2019
Originally published on July 6, 2019 12:04 pm
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And it's time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: A 15-year-old from Florida takes Wimbledon by storm and on the eve of the Women's World Cup final, America's brash, outspoken and very, very good team. We're joined now by Howard Bryant of ESPN. Good morning.

HOWARD BRYANT, BYLINE: Good morning. How are you?

MONTAGNE: Pretty good. Let's start with Wimbledon because - and I say this is an incredible understatement - a star is being born there.

BRYANT: A star is being born there. Fifteen-Year-Old Coco Gauff - just an amazing, amazing story, one, because we're just not used to seeing someone that young be this good anymore. We've seen it in the old days, remember, with Tracy Austin at 14 and Jennifer Capriati, who was the last player as young as Coco Gauff to be doing what she's doing now. But over the last several years, the game has gotten so physical and so strong, the players are so much bigger, that teenagers haven't really had the chance to do what Coco Gauff is doing now. And she did something even more remarkable than just show up and play well at Wimbledon. She came in in the first round and beat her idol, Venus Williams, who's only won Wimbledon five times and is a seven-time Grand Slam champion.

And, of course, yesterday's match against Polona Hercog was just amazing considering she was down 6-3, 5-2, match point twice and found her way to win the entire match 7-5 in the third set. It just showed you how much - how much fun it is, and then it shows you how much talent she's got as well. I was thinking to myself watching her parents in the crowd yesterday that I couldn't stomach that. I can barely watch my son at a piano recital at the nursing home. And watching them watch their teenager do what she's doing, it's incredible.

MONTAGNE: Well, something else incredible, of course, is the Women's World Cup final soccer team from America, the U.S. team. Before we talk about them - and I'm going to ask you about them - they have transformed this tournament into a much talked about event - I mean, much more than a game - haven't they?

BRYANT: Well - and they have, and they always do. They are brash. They are good. They are fantastic. And they're tough. I think when you look at the personalities involved, you've got Megan Rapinoe, who was the only player - white woman player to take a knee after Colin Kaepernick did in 2016 out of support for him. You have Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd, who are two of the other stars on the team. You've got this team - they start to the tournament and they destroy Thailand, and people are mad at them because they won so big. And then they had a tough match against Spain.

And then, of course, you go up against England as well, and England didn't like the fact that when they came out and beat them that they had a real - you know, Morgan's celebration was of her sipping tea. I thought it was kind of fun. People thought this team was brash, but you know what? They're good. They demand equal pay for women. They fight with the federation to make sure that they get what they deserve in terms of their respect. And they are something to watch. And tomorrow, they'll be playing for the championship against the Netherlands.

MONTAGNE: OK. No predictions, but what's the 30-second version of what you'll be looking at when the U.S. kicks off with the Netherlands?

BRYANT: Oh, I think you're looking to see how healthy Megan Rapinoe is. She didn't play the other match. She didn't start the other match because of her hamstring. So we'll see if she's healthy and playing. And I think you just want to see if they can play on their terms, they win. If they get into a tough defensive battle, then it's anybody's game.

MONTAGNE: Howard Bryant of ESPN, pleasure talking to you.

BRYANT: My pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.