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WWE star Sasha Banks looks ahead to the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble

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WWE’s self-styled ‘Boss’ Sasha Banks has praised the role Brit William Regal has played in the meteoric rise of the company’s women’s division.

After decades as a male-dominated company sitting at the top of the sports entertainment industry, WWE has finally shortened the gap over the last couple of years – and Banks has been at the forefront of much of it.

sasha-banks and barley

She was one of the first women to main event an episode of Raw in nearly 15 years, and one of the first ever to main event a pay-per-view – the inaugural women’s Hell in a Cell match.

That’s coupled with the first women’s Money in the Bank match earlier this year and January’s maiden Royal Rumble match – not to mention a thriving women’s division in NXT, the company’s developmental territory where Banks and so many of her colleagues put their stamp on the scene.

NXT’s on-screen General Manager is William Regal – the legendary Brit who has carved out a fine career behind the scenes in WWE as he shapes careers and brings through new talent.

The 49-year-old is clearly an influential figure to many of the company’s rising starlets, and Banks was quick to point to the former Intercontinental Champion when asked by The Independent to name some of the key figures who’ve helped steer the rise of WWE’s girls.

“It’s so hard to credit just one person for that because there are so many people who have come and supported us,” she said. “For me, I’d say a really big one has to be William Regal. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t even have been signed to WWE originally.

“He and the likes of Joey Mercury and Norman Smiley have trained me and really believed in me. They have really pushed me to become what I am today, and Dusty Rhodes never gave up on the women and always supported everything that we did.

“Triple H, with NXT, gave us that opportunity to shine and has given the same opportunities there as to the girls on the main roster.”

NXT continues to be a hugely-popular WWE export, with a cult following and a real rawness to its presentation.

The likes of Banks, Paige, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch all came through the programme to become mainstays of the main roster, just as Finn Balor, Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt have on the men’s side.

It seems almost certain that some of the young NXT talent will be given the chance to shine on a huge stage later this month. The first ever women’s Royal Rumble will feature 30 female athletes – some from the company’s yellow brand will surely be among them.

Even with her hectic schedule, Banks admits she still tries to catch some of the NXT programming when she can, and admits she’d love to see some of them thrown into the mix come Rumble time later this month.

“To be honest it has been such a long time since I actually got to sit down and watch an episode of NXT but, of course, I love to see the Takeover events,” She added. “The ones that really stand out for me are Lacey Evans, she has really impressed me. Of course, the Iconic Duo [Peyton Royce and Billie Kay], I just can’t speak highly enough of them – they are amazing.

“Ember Moon has been killing it as well, so they really have a ton of really great talent down there and I look forward to having more of them called up to the main roster.

“The potential for them to be involved in the Royal Rumble is just huge and hopefully they are really excited about that.”

Royal Rumble is one of WWE’s biggest events of the year and traditionally signals the start of Wrestlemania season as we head to the huge annual extravaganza in April.

The landmark nature of this year’s Rumble was not lost on Banks, who is clearly buzzing to get going, revealing she’d love to see the likes of Hall of Famers Trish Stratus, Lita and Beth Phoenix added as surprise entrants to the marquee match.

“I am so extremely excited,” continued the multi-time former women’s champ. “It’s so incredibly exciting and I have been pumping up my cardio game like crazy! I could be the first entry and potentially be in there for the whole 60 minutes so it makes you very nervous and excited at the same time.

“I can’t wait for the actual event and to get started.”

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Serena Williams insists she won’t be a ‘pushy mum’ ahead of daughter’s first tennis lesson

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Serena Williams insisted she wasn’t going to be an overprotective tennis mum after dropping her three-year-old daughter off Olympia off for her first lesson.

And she revealed little Olympia’s new instructor had no idea she’d be teaching the offspring of a 23-time Grand Slam singles winner, arguably the greatest women’s player of all time.

Serena shared the milestone moment with fans in a series of Instagram stories.

Sporting a yellow Nike cap, she said: ‘Guys, I signed Olympia up for tennis lessons.

‘Don’t even start with me because I’m not giving her tennis lessons, I signed her up for some. But the lady has no idea that it’s my daughter so we’ll see how that goes.

I’m not a pushy mom but I know how I like technique so I’ll make sure she’s good at teaching Olympia some techniques.’

Olympia showed off her new tennis outfit (Picture:@serenawilliams/Instagram)

The four-time Olympic gold medallist made sure her girl had all the best kit ahead of her first foray onto the court, including a tiny Wilson racket to match her mum’s.

Serena, known for her daring, stellar style, chose an adorable matching ensemble for Olympia’s debut.

The outfit seemed to have Olympia’s seal of approval too. A snap posted by her proud mum shows her dancing on the table, tongue-out, in the long-sleeved shirt and skirt in an abstract black-and-white pattern.

Olympia seemed less keen on her mum’s choice of pre-lesson entertainment, as Serena insisted on running over some pro match film before the lesson.

‘See the open stance there?’ Serena explained to the tot. ‘And look at the speed!’

But it seems Olympia finally got her way and convinced her mum to switch to some cartoons.

‘This is the film she wanted to watch,’ explained Serena. ‘That baby not playing tennis Olympia.’

Hard as it might have been for the fiercely competitive athlete, Serena stuck to her word and didn’t linger after leaving Olympia at her lesson.

Wearing a bright pink tank and a grey mask, she said: ‘So she’s at her tennis lesson but I’m going to leave so I’m not distracting. I know how to leave and be.

‘I’m not like an overprotective mum, no matter what [husband] Alexis [Ohanian] says.’

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