World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty will not be in Paris to defend her French Open tennis title.
The Australian said she would not be traveling to Europe in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as factoring in her lack of preparedness to play at Roland Garros.
“It has been a difficult decision to make but unfortunately I will not be competing in Europe this year,” Barty said in a statement. “Last year’s French Open was the most special tournament of my career so this is not a decision I have made lightly.
“There are two reasons for my decision. The first is the health risks that still exist with Covid. The second is my preparation, which has not been ideal without my coach being able to train with me due to the state border closures in Australia.
“I wish the players and the French Federation all the best for a successful tournament.
“I now look forward to a long preseason and the summer in Australia. It has been a challenging year for everyone and although I am disappointed on a tennis front, the health and well-being of my family and my team will always be my priority. Thank you to my fans for your continued support, I can’t wait to play for you again.”
In the 2019 French Open, Barty defeated Marketa Vondrousova to win her first major title. Later that June, Barty rose to No. 1 in the WTA rankings for the first time.
Barty, 24, announced in late July that she would not compete at the Western & Southern Open or the US Open in New York, citing Covid-19 concerns.
French Open to welcome fans
The French Open is normally the second major in the tennis calendar year, traditionally beginning in late May and ending in early June. This year’s tournament was moved amid the coronavirus and now starts later this month. Wimbledon was canceled because of the pandemic earlier this year.
The French Tennis Federation announced Monday that this year’s tournament will be open to fans when play begins later this month.
Roland Garros will be divided into three zones, with a maximum of 5,000 fans in each of two zones and a maximum of 1,500 in the third.
Seats in the stands will be allocated under strict tournament protocols, with a maximum of four spectators sitting in adjacent seats indoors.
According to tournament director Guy Forget, all players will be tested upon arrival in Paris and will be approved to play if return negative tests upon arrival and again 72 hours later.
Players will also be tested every five days as long as they remain in contention and must stay in one of two hotels arranged by tournament organizers.