Star American gymnist Simone Biles is set to return to the competitive circuit for the first time since the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The 26-year-old took a hiatus from her sport to deal with mental health issues.
Steve Smith and Travis Head shone with the bat on Wednesday as Australia finished day 1 on the second Ashes Test at 339-5 after being put to bat by England.
Chelsea sold two of the key players in their 2020-21 Champions League winning side as Kai Havertz joined Premier League rivals Arsenal while Edouard Mendy joined Saudi side Al-Ahli.
World number one Iga Swiatek and world no seven Coco Gauff reached the quarter-finals at Bad Homburg and Eastbourne respectively but world no 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas was knocked out at the Mallorca Open.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for June 29, 2023:
Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles is poised to compete in August for the first time since mental health and safety concerns cut short her Tokyo Olympics campaign, entering the August US Classic near Chicago.
USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday that the four-time Olympic gold medallist was entered in the August 4-5 event, which would be her first since she withdrew from most of her events in Tokyo in 2021.
“Registration...does not guarantee participation,” USA Gymnastics warned in the statement.
“Every athlete is at a different place in their season and career, and we will support each of them, wherever they are in their journey,” said USA Gymnastics chief programs officer Stefanie Korepin.
Biles electrified the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she won gold in team, all-around, vault and floor exercise as well as a balance beam bronze.
She entered the Covid-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 as a heavy favorite to win as many as five gold medals.
She hadn’t lost an all-around competition since 2013 and her build up to the Games included mastery of a daring Yurchenko double pike vault that had never before been seen in women’s competition.
However, she would depart Tokyo with only team silver and a balance beam bronze. Additionally, her campaign was cut short after she experienced the “twisties” – the phenomenon in which gymnasts lose the ability to orientate themselves in mid-air.
Biles withdrew from the team event after performing on one apparatus and later withdrew from the all-around competition and the finals for vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, saying at the time she needed to prioritze her mental health.
Smith stars for Australia
Star batsman Steve Smith’s unbeaten 85 was the centrepiece of Australia’s impressive 339-5 on the opening day of the second Test against England at Lord’s on Wednesday.
But off-spinner Joe Root, better known as the number one-ranked batsman in Test cricket, took two wickets in four balls late in the day to check the progress of Ashes-holders Australia, 1-0 up in the five-match series after a thrilling two-wicket win at Edgbaston last week.
Australia were in command at 316-3, despite being sent into bat by England captain Ben Stokes in overcast conditions and on a green tinged-pitch that promised to aid his five-strong pace attack.
But dashing left-hander Travis Head, scoring at better than a run-a-ball, then charged down the pitch only to be beaten by a sharply turning Root delivery with Jonny Bairstow, whose wicketkeeping had proved fallible in Birmingham, completing an excellent stumping.
Head was out for 77 following a stand of 118 with Smith where England were given a taste of their own ‘Bazball’ medicine.
But three balls later, Australia’s 316-4 became 316-5 when all-rounder Cameron Green fell for a duck, slicing Root to James Anderson at mid-off.
At stumps Root, the only spinner in the attack after England dropped Moeen Ali, had figures of 2-19 from eight overs.
Fast bowler Josh Tongue, recalled in place of Moeen, removed Australia left-handed openers Usman Khawaja and David Warner, who made a valuable 66, in a return of 2-88 in 18 overs.
England’s aggressive approach had come under scrutiny in Birmingham, but missing several chances was a bigger factor in their defeat.
On Wednesday, Stuart Broad looked to have dismissed Warner, then on 20, yet again in an Ashes clash, only for fourth slip Ollie Pope, who later went off injured with a shoulder injury, to drop a two-handed catch.
Warner cashed in with a 66-ball fifty completed when he pulled Tongue, in just his second Test, for six.
But off what became the last ball before lunch Tongue bowled Khawaja, playing no shot, to end a stand of 73.
Warner also fell to Tongue, bowled between bat and pad by a ball that cut back sharply off the pitch.
England for all Australia’s playing and missing, did not help themselves by giving away 36 runs in extras, including 12 no-balls.
Smith stuck Stuart Broad through the covers for two fours off successive balls then successfully overturned a caught-behind decision off the next delivery on his way to a 102-ball fifty.
Stokes, who has been troubled by a longstanding knee injury, brought himself on but only bowled three wicketless overs.
Smith and Labuschagne, until recently the world’s two top-ranked Test batsmen, had managed just 35 runs between them across four innings at Edgbaston.
But on Wednesday their century partnership was ended when Labuschagne was caught behind off an excellent delivery from Ollie Robinson to leave Australia 198-3.
Chelsea sell Havertz, Mendy
Arsenal on Wednesday signed German attacking midfielder Kai Havertz from Chelsea on a “long-term contract” while Edouard Mendy joined Al-Ahli to become the third player to leave the Blues for Saudi Arabia.
Neither club disclosed a fee but British media said Arsenal were paying Chelsea 65 million pounds or 75 million euros.
Havertz is Arsenal’s first signing of the summer but the British press reported the club had agreed a 105 million-pound fee for West Ham’s England midfielder Declan Rice.
Havertz joined Chelsea in 2020 from Bayer Leverkusen. He made 139 appearances in three seasons, scoring 32 times, including the only goal in the 2021 UEFA Champions League final victory over Manchester City.
Mendy is reported to have cost Al-Ahli around £16 million ($20 million) after he opted to leave the Premier League club having lost his place to Kepa Arrizabalaga in the second half of last term.
Mendy helped Chelsea win the Champions League in 2021, but played only once for the club after returning from the World Cup in Qatar last year.
He fell out of favour following Thomas Tuchel’s sacking as Chelsea manager in September, with his successor Graham Potter and then interim boss Frank Lampard both preferring to use Kepa in goal.
It was a shock fall from grace for a player named UEFA’s goalkeeper of the season and FIFA’s best male goalkeeper in 2021.
Mendy joins former World Cup winner N’Golo Kante and Kalidou Koulibaly in swapping Stamford Bridge for clubs in the Saudi Professional League, with the pair having joined Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal respectively.
Hakim Ziyech, another Chelsea player set to leave this summer, is also understood to be on the brink of moving to the Gulf state after a deal was struck for him to join Al-Nassr.
The Blues are eager to clear as many of their unwanted players out as possible before June 30 so that the sales can be included in financial accounts for 2022/23.
Swiatek beats Teichmann at Bad Homburg
World number one Iga Swiatek showed her resourcefulness under pressure as she beat Jil Teichmann 6-3, 6-1 in the Round of 16 at the Bad Homburg Open on Wednesday.
The Swiss player put Swiatek under early pressure and had three break points in the Pole’s opening service game, which lasted 18 points. Swiatek, fresh from her third French Open title, held.
After that, Swiatek dominated on serve until the last game when she saved two more break points.
Swiatek made the breakthrough in the fifth game when she surprised Teichmann into an error with a between-the-legs shot.
Chasing back to reach a lob at 30-40, Swiatek opted to hit a tweener and even though the shot was short, Teichmann sliced her return out.
After that, Swiatek cruised until the final game of the match.
Swiatek has long struggled on grass. She has never gone beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon, having made at least the semi-finals of every other major.
In the quarter-finals, Swiatek will face Anna Blinkova, who beat Leylah Fernandez 7-5, 6-2.
In other matches, Lucia Bronzetti outlasted fourth-seeded Mayar Sherif 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 in 2 hours 51 minutes and Katerina Siniakova beat Evgeniya Rodina 6-2, 6-4.
Tsitsipas out of Mallorca Open
World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas crashed out of the Mallorca Open on Wednesday in his first match with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 loss to Yannick Hanfmann, a worrying result ahead of Wimbledon.
Following another early exit on grass at the Halle Open last week the Greek was beaten convincingly by his German opponent, ranked 48th. The Wimbledon main draw begins on July 3.
Strong on his serve, Hanfmann did not face a single break point in the first set and only lost one service game in the match.
The German sealed his win against the erratic top seed with a forehand down the line.
Hanfmann faces Feliciano Lopez, in his final competition before retirement, in the quarter-finals after the Spaniard’s 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 6-3 defeat of Australia’s Jordan Thompson.
Christopher Eubanks surprised Ben Shelton 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) in an all-American battle earlier on.
France’s Arthur Rinderknech eased past his compatriot Constant Lestienne 6-3, 6-2 and will face Eubanks in the last eight.
Adrian Mannarino plays Corentin Moutet and Lloyd Harris meets Pavel Kotov in the other quarter-finals.
Gauff wins at Eastbourne
World number seven Coco Gauff powered into the Eastbourne quarter-finals with a 6-1, 6-1 rout of Britain’s Jodie Burrage on Wednesday.
Gauff needed just 59 minutes to demolish Burrage and set up a last eight clash against fellow American and doubles partner Jessica Pegula, who beat Colombian qualifier Camila Osorio 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
Britain’s Harriet Dart was brushed aside by Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-4.
Russian ninth seed Daria Kasatkina beat 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova.
Defending men’s champion and top seed Taylor Fritz was knocked out by fellow Californian Mackenzie McDonald, who recovered from a break down in each set to win 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (10/8) against the world number nine.
The American will face Swede Mikael Ymer in the quarter-finals after he defeated home favourite Liam Broady 6-2, 6-4.
Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic struggled past Aleksandar Vukic for a 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 win and will face Frenchman Gregoire Barrere after he upset fifth seed Nicolas Jarry in three sets.
Tottenham buy Maddison
Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday completed the signing of creative midfielder James Maddison from relegated Leicester in a deal worth 40 million pounds (46.3m euros) plus add-ons.
The 26-year-old England international signed a five-year deal.
Maddison began his career with Coventry City before joining Norwich City in January, 2016. He moved to Leicester in 2018 and in five seasons made 203 appearances, scored 55 goals and helped win the FA Cup. He scored 10 goals last season as Leicester were relegated from the Premier League
He has three England caps.
Maddison’s creativity will boost a Spurs squad that has lacked a player in his mould since Christian Eriksen left in 2020.
He is the club’s third signing of the summer. Winger Dejan Kulusevski’s loan switch from Juventus was made permanent and goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario joined from another Italian club, Empoli.
Speculation continues to swirl around Tottenham’s star striker Harry Kane who is entering the last year of his contract.
Bayern Munich have agreed personal terms with the England captain, German daily Bild reported Wednesday, but an initial 70-million-euro bid was rejected by Tottenham.
Kane’s camp is believed to have approved the move, but Bayern need an agreement on a fee with Tottenham to seal the transfer.
Bayern submitted an offer of 70 million euros plus add-ons for Kane, according to Bild, while Spurs are demanding at least 100 million euros to part with their talismanic striker.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day