Tennis world divided after Naomi Osaka’s French Open withdrawal

News and reactions from the world of sport, including England’s 26-man squad for Euro 2020

Naomi Osaka beat Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig in the French Open first round
Naomi Osaka beat Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig in the French Open first round
(Image credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

1. Osaka will ‘take some time away from the court’


Naomi Osaka’s decision to pull out of the French Open after being fined for refusing to do press conferences has divided opinion in the world of tennis. The Japanese star has been sent messages of support after citing mental health concerns, but others have also questioned her decision, Sky News reports.

After receiving a fine of $15,000 (£10,500) for missing two media conferences, the world No.2 issued a statement saying she would “take some time away from the court” and was withdrawing “so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis”.

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American teenage player Coco Gauff tweeted “stay strong - I admire your vulnerability” to Osaka while 18-time grand slam winner Martina Navratilova said “this is about more than doing or not doing a press conference”.

However, former British player Andrew Castle told LBC that Osaka “has got this completely wrong” while American icon Billie Jean King “always believed that as professional athletes we have a responsibility to make ourselves available to the media”.

While the tennis and sporting worlds continued the debate over Osaka’s statement, The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew says it shows up the problems of press conferences. “One of the world’s best athletes would literally rather quit a grand slam tournament than have to talk to the press,” he wrote. “Rather than scrutinising what that says about her, it might be worth asking what that says about us.”

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2. Alexander-Arnold included in England’s final squad for Euro 2020


Most of the pre-announcement talk was about Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold and his potential exclusion from England’s squad for Euro 2020. However, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has confirmed that the right-back is in the 26-man squad for the tournament which starts on 11 June.

Southgate last week named a provisional 33-man group, meaning seven players would miss the cut. While Alexander-Arnold is in, there was no place for Mason Greenwood, who had withdrawn due to an underlying injury, Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White.

England’s 26-man squad

  • Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Pickford (Everton)
  • Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
  • Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham United)
  • Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

An in-depth guide to Euro 2020

3. Aguero and Garcia leave Man City for Barcelona


Barcelona have confirmed that Argentine striker Sergio Aguero, 32, and Spanish defender Eric Garcia, 20, will join the club when their contracts expire at Manchester City. Aguero, City’s all-time record goalscorer, has signed a two-year deal with the Catalans while Garcia has penned a five-year deal.

“We all know that Barcelona are the best club in the world,” said Aguero. “I think I made a great decision to be here and of course it is a step forward in my career. I am really happy and hopefully I can help the team to win things.”

4. Aston Martin sign partnership with Racing Pride

Formula 1

F1 team Aston Martin have announced a partnership with Racing Pride to mark June’s Pride Month. The month-long campaign will highlight the strength of the LGBTQ+ community within motorsport and Racing Pride logos will feature on Aston Martin’s car at the French Grand Prix, Sky Sports reports.

“This landmark partnership between Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team and Racing Pride will have a widely felt positive impact for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Richard Morris, co-founder of Racing Pride. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the team as it constantly strives to create an inclusive culture in which all team members are respected, empowered, and valued.”

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5. Brazil replaces Argentina as Copa America host nation


The 2021 Copa America will now be held in Brazil after Argentina was removed as host of South America’s major international football tournament.

Conmebol, the South American Football Confederation, confirmed that Argentina was stripped of the hosting rights because of the “present circumstances”. The country is currently experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases, the BBC reports. The tournament starts on 13 June.

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.