Ronda Rousey is joining the WWE – and she announced it in the most dramatic way

The pro-wrestler will return for WrestleMania in April.

By Grace Rahman, Press Association

Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey announced she is joining the WWE by making a dramatic appearance at the pay-per-view Royal Rumble.

The mixed martial arts fighter surprised the crowd at the end of the first ever women’s Royal Rumble, won by Asuka.

“This is my life now,” she told ESPN after appearing in the ring.

“First priority on my timeline for the next several years. This is not a smash-and-grab; this is not a publicity stunt.”

There is little information on the deal between Rousey and the WWE, but reports suggest she has signed a full-time contract.Ronda Rousey is joining the WWE

Rousey’s switch to wrestling comes after she was defeated in her last two UFC bouts – Amanda Nunes knocked her out in just 48 seconds in 2016, and she lost to Holly Holm in 2015.

A longtime fan of the WWE, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey takes her nickname from WWE superstar Roddy Piper, who granted her permission to use the name.

She came out on Sunday night wearing the late Rowdy Roddy’s leather jacket, which was given to her by the Canadian pro-wrestler’s son.

“I’m just so incredibly lucky,” she told a WWE reporter, “I’m aware of it, I’m very aware of it.

“This has been a dream of mine since before I could talk.”

Joining Royal Rumble winner Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss in the ring, the former UFC bantamweight champion said little to her fellow wrestlers before pointing at the WrestleMania sign above her, hinting at when she would make her WWE debut.

Performing in the WWE should not be too much of a stretch for Rousey, who had roles in The Expendables 3, Furious 7 and the Entourage film.

She began her career in judo, winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

At just 21 she retired from the sport and entered the world of mixed martial arts, becoming the first female fighter signed with the UFC in 2012.

She defended her bantamweight champion belt six times before her losses to Holm and then Nunes.

Simona Halep to play Caroline Wozniacki in Australian Open women’s final

The pair will both bid for their maiden grand slam title on Saturday with the world number one ranking also on the line.

By Eleanor Crooks, Press Association Sport Tennis Correspondent, Melbourne

Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki will do battle in the Australian Open final on Saturday with a first grand slam title and the world number one ranking at stake.

After Wozniacki withstood a major wobble with the finish line in sight to beat Elise Mertens 6-3 7-6 (7/2), Halep defeated title favourite Angelique Kerber 6-3 4-6 9-7, with the third set a battle of lung-busting brilliance.

The final will be a clash between the top two seeds who share more than simply proximity in the rankings. Both have been ranked number one without winning a slam, both lost their first two finals and, heading into the second half of their careers, both know they may never get a better chance.

Cynics would call it the desperation derby, and whichever player handles the occasion better is very likely to come out the winner.

Halep achieved the bigger result in the semi-finals, beating the form player of 2017, former Melbourne champion Kerber, who went into the clash on a 10-match winning streak.

It pitted two of the best athletes and counter-punchers on the women’s tour against each other, so long rallies seemed to be a given, yet after 13 minutes the score was 5-0 to Halep.

But Kerber mounted a comeback, winning three games in a row, before Halep broke serve again to take the set.

The Romanian has made no secret that her sole focus now is on winning a slam title, but Kerber clung on by her fingernails in the second set, recovering from 1-3 and then saving break points that would have given Halep a 5-3 lead.

She got her reward with three games in a row to take the set as Halep’s belief wavered and then broke to start the third with an extraordinary point that was a taste of things to come.

Halep looked to have made the decisive breakthrough when she opened up a 5-3 lead but Kerber broke back, ending the final titanic point on her knees with her head pressed to the court.

A pinpoint HawkEye challenge gave Halep two match points in the next game but Kerber saved them both and then gave herself the chance to serve for victory at 6-5. She got to 40-15 but now it was Halep’s turn to dig in and hang on.Simona Halep, pictured left, is congratulated by Angelique Kerber (AP)

They were the fourth and fifth match points the Romanian has saved this tournament after she withstood three in another remarkable battle against Lauren Davis in round three.

Halep said: “It definitely was very tough, I’m shaking, I’m very emotional. She’s a very tough opponent. I’m really glad that I could resist and I could win this match. I have just to enjoy.

“I had just confidence in myself. I decided after I twist my ankle (in the first round) that I will fight for every point in this tournament and then I will rest. I didn’t give up, not even a ball. If you don’t give up you can win the match in the end. I did it and I’m really proud of myself.”

All seemed to be going smoothly for Wozniacki against surprise package Mertens in the first match until she served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and from 30-0 lost four straight points, double-faulting on the last of them.

Wozniacki then had to save two set points but, seven years after holding match point in the last four here against Li Na and losing, she engineered a different outcome.

Katy Mclean wants to continue feel-good factor at Rugby World Cup

Fly-half Mclean believes the feel-good factor surrounding English women’s sport can spur England on at the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

By PA Sport Staff

England fly-half Katy Mclean says her team-mates have been inspired by the success of their cricketing counterparts ahead of the upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup.

After England’s dramatic World Cup final victory over India at Lord’s, this country’s rugby players will now look to follow suit at their own showpiece tournament starting on August 9.

There could be more silverware yet to come before then too, with England’s female footballers taking on Holland on Thursday for a place in Sunday’s Euro 2017 final.

Mclean believes the feel-good factor surrounding English women’s sport can spur them on at the World Cup in Ireland.England’s Women’s Rugby World Cup winning team at Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Mclean said. “The buzz from the cricket is definitely going to help us.

“Then you look at the footballers and them beating France to get to the semis – it’s everything you want to see as a woman in sport, not just rugby.

“I remember being seven and my role model was Sally Gunnell because she was the only female athlete on TV.

“Now you’ve got cricketers, footballers, rugby players – and we want to follow them in inspiring the next generation of female players. It’s phenomenal.”

England are the reigning world champions after they beat Canada in the final three years ago but they will face stiff competition from the likes of New Zealand, Ireland, France and the Canadians again.

They have been drawn in Pool B with Italy, the United States and Spain.

“It’s not about retaining the trophy, you don’t get any bonus points for winning it before,” Mclean said. “This tournament is a clean slate for everybody. There’s 12 teams that are going to go out there and want to win it. It means nothing for us what happened in 2014.”

England’s 15-a-side players know they will not have their contracts renewed at the end of the tournament after the Rugby Football Union’s controversial decision to shift focus to sevens. Mclean, however, insists the squad will not let the issue become a distraction.

“As players it’s something we’ve known about for a while but the big focus is on the World Cup,” Mclean said. “I have to make sure as a group that’s all we focus on. The best thing we can control is our performances and the first one is against Spain in 10 days time.”

Plain sailing for Simona Halep

The world number one defeated Naomi Osaka to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park.

By Eleanor Crooks, Press Association Sport Tennis Correspondent, Melbourne

World number one Simona Halep avoided the dramas of her third round to ease into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Naomi Osaka.

The 26-year-old looked to be heading home when Lauren Davis held three match points in their titanic encounter on Saturday but recovered to win 15-13 in the deciding set.

With Halep already troubled by the ankle injury she suffered in her first-round win, Japanese-American Osaka, one of the brightest young talents – and biggest hitters – in the game, looked a potentially tricky obstacle.

The 20-year-old began well and had an early break but Halep quickly began to break down Osaka’s game with her variety, athleticism and ability to turn defence into attack.

Halep needed just an hour and 19 minutes to wrap up victory and will play either sixth seed Karolina Pliskova or her fellow Czech Barbora Strycova in the last eight.

The top seed, who has made no secret that her focus is solely trained on winning a first grand slam title, said: “It was a great match. I’m really happy that I’m in the quarter-finals. I didn’t expect that when I started the tournament because of the injury but today I played well.

“This tournament looks like a marathon for me. The injury is still there but I try not to think too much about it and give everything because after this hopefully I’ll have a few days off.”