2022 Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios vented about lack of white towels on his losing return to tennis at Stuttgart. The Australian, who was playing for the first time since getting knee surgery in January, lost to Wu Yibing in straight set.

Venus Williams lost to Swiss teenager Celine Naef in the first round in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The 41-year-old started strongly in her first appearance in the Netherlands but faded away to lose in three sets.

Moeen Ali said Ben Stokes was the only one who could persuade him to come back from Test cricket retirement after joining England’s Ashes squad.

Later in the day, Real Madrid confirmed the signing of Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund on a six-year deal on Wednesday, with the English international costing over 100 million euros ($108 million).

Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for June 14, 2023:

Madrid confirm Bellingham arrival from Dortmund

German side Dortmund said an agreement for the 19-year-old had been reached last week with Madrid, worth 103 million euros plus up to 30 percent of that fee in bonuses.

Bellingham’s arrival continues Real Madrid’s regeneration of their midfield, joining young French duo Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, to help phase out veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

“Our clubs signs one of the biggest talents in world football, a player who comes from Borussia Dortmund and arrives at Madrid after being chosen as the best player in the Bundesliga 2022-23 season,” Madrid said.

“On top of that, he is only 19 and is already a starter for the England national team.”

Bellingham shone for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions at the World Cup last year, with England knocked out in the quarter-finals by runners-up France.

The midfielder, who turns 20 later in June, signed for Dortmund from Birmingham in 2020 for 25 million euros, playing 132 games for the club and lifting the German Cup in 2021.

“Thank you to everyone at BVB and to the fans for everything over the past three years,” Bellingham told Dortmund’s club website.

“It was an honour to wear your shirt so often, in big and small moments. Even though I’m looking forward to my next destination, I’ll never forget the journey there. Once a Borussian, always a Borussian.”

Kyrgios pleads for patience after losing on return

Nick Kyrgios got upset over a lack of white towels and later pleaded for patience following a straight-sets defeat in Stuttgart to Wu Yibing on his return to tennis.

The 25th-ranked Australian, who finished runner-up 11 months ago at Wimbledon to Novak Djokovic, lost 7-5, 6-3 to lower-ranked grass-court debutant Wu on Tuesday.

Kyrgios, playing for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in January, tweeted afterwards: “Be patient with me my fans please. It’s a process to get back to where I was.

“I know it’s hard for you to see me perform like today, but I need more time and hopefully can get back to where I was.”

Kyrgios’s mood turned sour in the first set, with complaints about the colour of the towels, the bounce of the grass court and a shortage of sideline water.

But it was the coloured sponsor towels on court that got the famously fiery Australian steaming.

“It took me three games to get white towels,” the 28-year-old said after his first-round loss to China’s Wu, who is ranked 64th and won the Dallas title in February.

“They soak up the sweat better. I’m the same at every tourney. They all have white ones in the locker room.

“I’m not asking to move mountains. White towels actually take the sweat off my body – we are professional athletes.”

Kyrgios, whose previous tour-level match was last October in Tokyo, added: “I have to get used to playing in front of the crowd again. Feeling the moments like break points – all that stuff is new to me again.

The loss still featured 15 aces from the big-serving Kyrgios, with the 23-year-old Wu hoping to improve his own serve as he gets more used to grass.

“I’m very happy to have played Nick in the first round, he’s one of the best players on grass,” said the Chinese player, who faces Marton Fucsovics of Hungary next.

“The key for me was to stay cool, stay patient and find a way.

“He has a better serve than me, but I was more patient. I will work to improve my serve.”

Kyrgios is due to compete next week on grass in Halle, Germany, where he lost last year in the semi-finals.

Venus Williams loses to teenager Naef

Venus Williams, playing her first match since early January, went down 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 to Celine Naef in the first round in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

With sister Serena, who retired last year, in the crowd, Venus Williams, who turns 43 on Saturday, started strongly, but she faded as Naef, a 17-year old Swiss ranked 202 in the world, took her first tour victory in two hours, 18 minutes.

Williams, ranked 696, was a wild card entry and was competing in the Netherlands for the first time in her career. It was her first singles match on grass since Wimbledon in 2021.

She last played on any surface in Auckland in January where she lost her second match to Zhu Lin of China, sustaining a hamstring injury that forced her to withdraw from the Australian Open.

In the next round, the Swiss will face eighth seed Caty McNally who eased past fellow American Katie Volynets 6-2, 6-1 in 65 minutes.

Fourth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova started her title defence with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Evgeniya Rodina.

No.6 seed Bianca Andreescu beat Turkish qualifier Zeynep Sonmez, who was also making her WTA main-draw debut, 6-4, 6-4.

Veronika Kudermetova is top seed in a field that also includes Victoria Azarenka.

Stokes persuaded me to come back to Test cricket, says Moeen

Moeen Ali said Ben Stokes was the only England captain who could have persuaded him to come out of Test retirement.

A one-word message from Stokes, after first-choice spinner Jack Leach had been ruled out of all five Ashes Tests against Australia, was all it took to bring slow-bowling all-rounder Moeen back into England’s red-ball set-up.

And Moeen could now be set for a return to Test cricket at Edgbaston, in his home city of Birmingham, when the Ashes series starts on Friday.

“Stokesy messaged me with a question mark – ‘Ashes?’,” Moeen told reporters at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

Moeen said he had not heard the news about Leach, who has a back injury, and thought Stokes was joking.

“Then the news came through and I had a chat with him,” he said. “That was it. It’s the Ashes. To be part of it would be amazing.”

Moeen, who turns 36 on Sunday, last played Test cricket in September 2021.

But his developing relationship with Stokes – the pair were together with Chennai Super Kings during this year’s Indian Premier League – proved the difference.

Asked if there was any other captain who could have persuaded him to change his mind, Moeen replied: “Probably not, no.”

A powerful batsman as well as an off-spinner, Moeen has played 64 Tests for England, taking 195 wickets and scoring 2,914 runs.

But Australia have proved tough opponents for Moeen, with his career bowling average shooting up from 36.66 to 64.65 in Ashes cricket.

Nevertheless, he said he is relishing the chance to be involved as England bid for a first Ashes series win since 2015.

England have won 11 of their 13 Tests since Stokes joined forces with coach Brendon McCullum last year and Moeen said he is keen to be involved in the exciting brand of cricket.

Messi says 2022 World Cup was probably his last

Lionel Messi on Tuesday confirmed he “doesn’t think” he will play at another World Cup in an interview with Chinese media, after the 35-year-old led Argentina to victory at last year’s tournament in Qatar.

“I have said several times before that I don’t think so, that that (2022) was my last World Cup,” he said when asked by China’s Titan Sports in a video interview if he might feature at the 2026 tournament in North America.

“I will see how things go but in theory I don’t think I will be around for the next World Cup,” he added in Spanish in the video published on the app Kuaishou.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is currently in Beijing where Argentina will play a friendly against Australia on Thursday.

His comments come after he said earlier this year to Argentinian newspaper Ole that it would be “very difficult” to play at another World Cup.

He will turn 39 during the next tournament.

Messi last week announced he would join MLS side Inter Miami after his two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain came to an end.

With text inputs from AFP

Updated through the day