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Eyes of the tennis world would turn to the Citi Open if hosted this year

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Eyes of the tennis world would turn to the Citi Open if hosted this year

With the sports world on pause due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the Citi Open could signal the start of a welcomed new day if it goes on as currently still scheduled later this year. 

This week the ITF, ATP and WTA announced the suspension of all tournaments worldwide through July 13. The suspension includes the iconic Wimbledon Championships in England for the first time since World War II. Without it, players will go at minimum four months in-between competitive tournaments. 

That is where the Citi Open could have more of a mark on the tennis world than usual, assuming the suspension is not extended. The tournament in Washington D.C. would be the first combined event on the tour since play resumed. It would the second ATP 500-level event and the fifth International-level tournament for the WTA.

“It just became an incredible set of circumstances for us to have an unprecedented player field and media, global media attention on us,” managing owner of the Citi Open Mark Ein told NBC Sports Washington. “Our top priority is always going to be protecting people’s health and that is going to be the first objective, but if we can do that and have the event it will be extraordinary.”

Players across the world would be vying for a spot in the tournament to get back in action. It would be one of the prime tournaments for preparation in the Rogers Cup and subsequent U.S. Open.

“The eyes of the tennis world and the sports world, more broadly, would be on Washington and the Citi Open," Ein said. "Virtually every single player is going to want to and need to play. They will have been out of competition for five months, made no prize money, got no ranking points. And I think the entire world would flock here for our event because it would be the first big event.”

Unlike Wimbledon and the other majors, the week-long Citi Open does not require as much long-term event planning. Major decisions on the event won’t have to be made until the beginning of June. Ein notes that they could even push back some of those deadlines later given the circumstances. 

Obviously, the uncertainly makes planning a large event a difficult task. The tournament organizing team though is still hard at work, operating as if the tournament will still be held. 

Players are in the same boat. Since the announcement of the suspension of the tours, players have been in contact with the Citi Open on entry into the field. Already the tournament is known for boasting an incredible crop of players, especially on the men’s side. Last year six top-15 players entered the men’s singles event. On the women’s side, former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens is a regular, while Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff have also played at Rock Creek Park. 

“Everyone is waiting a little bit longer to see,” Ein said. “But it is very clear that everyone’s going to come here if we’re on.”

But as has been clear in recent weeks, so much can change from now until July 13 and before the start of the tournament on August 1. Ein and the Citi Open, as of now, are optimistic at the opportunity that has presented themselves for the event but reaffirmed that the health and safety of the players and fans are their top priority.

The ultimate decision on whether to have the event would be in conjunction with the ATP, WTA and the city.

“We’ve talked about different ways of modifying the event to account for the extraordinary times we’re living in and we would be flexible to accommodate certain objectives if needed," Ein said. "But, it’s too early to have to think about what those options may be.”

Former boxing champ Floyd Mayweather to pay for George Floyd's funeral

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Former boxing champ Floyd Mayweather to pay for George Floyd's funeral

Former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather has offered to pay for George Floyd’s funeral and memorial services, and the family has accepted the offer.

Mayweather personally has been in touch with the family, according to Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions. He will handle costs for the funeral on June 9 in Floyd’s hometown of Houston, as well as other expenses.

Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed and saying that he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the country, some of which became violent.

TMZ originally reported Mayweather’s offer, and said he will also pay for services in Minnesota and North Carolina.

“He’ll probably get mad at me for saying that, but yes, he is definitely paying for the funeral,” Ellerbe told ESPN.com on Monday.

Mayweather, who lives in Las Vegas, has not met the Floyd family.

Mayweather, who retired undefeated after 50 fights, winning five division titles, also paid for the funeral of an opponent. Mayweather won his first world championship when he stopped Genaro Hernandez for the WBC super featherweight title in 1998. Hernandez died 13 years later of cancer, and Mayweather handled funeral expenses.

Mayweather is considered one of the best boxers of his generation. Among the champion boxers he defeated before retiring in 2017, are Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez, Oscar de la Hoya and Miguel Cotto.

In The Loop: Gritty goes to space, Arnold Schwarzenegger's workout buddy

In The Loop: Gritty goes to space, Arnold Schwarzenegger's workout buddy

First up in this Monday look around the sports world, not long after the successful launch of two astronauts to the International Space Station this past weekend, Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty shared this video of his experience to space. Somewhere no mascot has ever gone before! 

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I just need some space.

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While Gritty was headed off to space, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and J.R. Smith continued to do some cardio work. They were all spotted last week by a fan who was driving around and saw the three biking around the city of Los Angeles.

Lastly, ever wonder where Arnold Schwarzenegger gets his motivation to work out? Well it turns out his pet donkey Lulu is his pump up buddy. The 72-year old Hollywood actor and icon shared this video on his Instagram of Lulu monitoring his at-home workout session.

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Lulu pumps up.

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