Lisa Leslie was selected the WNBA's most valuable player for the second time in her career. The Los Angeles Sparks center, the league's MVP in 2001, received 425 points and 33 of a possible 48 first-place votes from a national media panel yesterday. Seattle's Lauren Jackson, last season's MVP, was second with 351 points.
Leslie led the league in rebounds (9.9) and blocked shots (2.88) and finished third in scoring (17.6).
She received $15,000 and a sport utility vehicle for winning the award and found herself nearly speechless at the ceremony held before tip-off of Game 1 of the WNBA Finals between Connecticut and Seattle.
"It's not often than I'm at a loss for words," Leslie said, the sport-utility vehicle keys dangling from her hand. "I'm just thankful that I've been blessed to play a sport that I really love, that I'm really passionate about."
The 6-foot-5 Leslie earned her third Olympic gold medal with the U.S. team in Athens this summer. The league took a month-long hiatus for the Olympics and Leslie returned stronger than ever, playing her best basketball after the break. She averaged 22.8 points and 9.5 rebounds in September.
* TENNIS: Amelie Mauresmo and Lindsay Davenport won in straight sets to reach the Porsche Grand Prix semifinals in Filderstadt, Germany, in another step in their battle for the No. 1 ranking.
The top-ranked Mauresmo overpowered Lisa Raymond of the United States, 6-4, 6-1, and No. 2-ranked Davenport struggled with her first serve but defeated qualifier Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Montenegro, 6-4, 6-3.
Davenport will reclaim the No. 1 ranking if she wins her season high seventh title and Mauresmo loses her semifinal today. Four of the top five ranked players are in the semis.
Mauresmo will face No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the U.S. Open champion who stopped Colombia's Fabiola Zuluaga, 6-4, 6-1. Davenport will play No. 4 Anastasia Myskina, the French Open winner who beat Russian countrywoman Elena Likhovtseva, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2.
* SOCCER: Goalkeeper Brad Friedel could have played his last game for the United States.
The 33-year-old veteran of three World Cups is not on the current U.S. roster for World Cup qualifiers and said he might quit international soccer to concentrate on playing for his English club, Blackburn Rovers.
"I haven't decided fully what I'm going to do about my international career as yet," Friedel said in yesterday's Lancashire Evening Telegraph, published in Blackburn. . . .
Forward Dante Washington will rejoin the Columbus Crew in time for the playoffs after signing a multiyear deal with Major League Soccer.
The Crew retained the rights to Washington, who last played for Columbus in 2002 before spending two years in the A-League. He's expected to rejoin the team on Oct. 12.
-- From News Services