Boris Becker unimpressed by Ash Barty, Bianca Andreescu, Naomi Osaka’s decision to skip French Open

French Open
Boris Becker through a lens

Boris Becker has heaped praise on Serena Williams for competing in the French Open despite struggling with injury while hinting that the likes of Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu should have made a bigger effort to support the tour.

Williams decided to enter the French Open despite picking up an Achilles injury during her semi-final defeat at the US Open. After winning her opening match, she pulled out of the tournament hours before her second-round clash as she was struggling to walk.

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Writing in his Daily Mail column, Becker commended the 23-time Grand Slam winner for flying to Paris.

“Serena Williams was never going to win this French Open, but she deserves credit for making the journey to Paris and trying to compete before realising that her achilles injury made it too difficult,” he wrote.

“The women played some fantastic matches in New York, often better than the men, but I am not seeing it in Paris. Where are those big matches involving the women? In fact, where are some of the biggest names in the women’s game?”

While Williams made it to Roland Garros, world No 1 and defending champion Barty decided to skip the event due to the coronavirus pandemic while Osaka and Andreescu cited injuries as reasons for their absence.

Becker, though, feels the WTA Tour could have done with more support from the likes Barty, Osaka and Andreescu.

He continued: “She [Williams] increasingly looks like the elder stateswoman and by coming to Paris and supporting the tour she acted like it. I have missed the likes of recent Grand Slam champions Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu.

“To me, it was a bit disappointing not to see Barty at either of the US or French Opens. These are difficult times and people are free to make their own choices but quite a few Australian players made the effort to play the US and French and to support the tour.

“The Australian cricket team have just been in England to play a series and help support their game. This year we have hardly seen Barty, who was watching Australian Rules football last week while the tournament she won 12 months ago was underway, or Andreescu.

“Osaka won the US Open but then could not make it to Paris. There are hardly any women’s events happening in 2020 after this. Serena, and before her the likes of Billie Jean King, have driven the game forward — and it is because of them that today’s top, younger players enjoy big contracts and huge prize money.

“Just before this tournament people were recognising the 50th anniversary of when Billie Jean and others were making sacrifices to establish the women’s tour. I could understand players not travelling to New York more, because that was the first big event back with a lot of uncertainties, but it went well.

“It is a shame some did not come to Paris after that. We are left with an intriguing women’s event and we will see who can take advantage of the situation. But it would have been great to have had some more big-name matches.”

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