Serena commits to US Open as tennis calendars confirmed

  • Reuters / Tennis Australia

Serena Williams will try to win a 24th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open after confirmation that the tournament will take place from 31 August to September 13 in New York.

The ATP and WTA Tour both issued revised calendars on Wednesday as professional tennis gears up to emerge from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Ultimately, I really cannot wait to return to New York and play the US Open 2020," said seven-times champion Williams. 

"I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everyone is safe."

The rescheduled French Open main draw will now take place from September 27 to October 11, a week later than originally planned.

Usually held at the end of May, the French Open was first moved to a September 20-October 4 slot but the main draw will now start on September 27 and end on October 11.

The qualifying tournament, which would not have been feasible in the previous two-week plans, will start on September 21, a boost for lower-ranked players who have been especially hard hit by the lack of earning opportunities since tennis was shutdown in March.

It also means there is more space between the end of the US Open on September 13 and the French Open main draw.

The US Open will be staged without fans and will not include a qualifying draw.

A number of top players, including world No1s Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, along with reigning US Open men's champion Rafael Nadal, are among those who have expressed concerns about attending the US Open.

World No2 Simona Halep has said she is unlikely to play the US Open under current health protocols but her decision isn't "set in stone".

However, defending champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada expects to be in New York, saying: "I plan to make the most of the opportunity to get back on court, reconnect with players and friends and hopefully bring tennis back to the millions of fans across the globe safely."

Former US and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka told TIME Magazine: "I want to play. Of course I understand all the concern.

"For me I'm also concerned, I don't know if they're really prepared for this and if the rules keep changing, and also if there's going to be another spike. You never know what's going to happen. For me right now, I'm definitely preparing as if it's going to happen."

An FFT statement said it had consulted with the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation (ITF) to allow the Roland-Garros showpiece the benefit of an extra week.

"We are delighted that consultation with the various international tennis authorities has enabled the 2020 edition of the Roland-Garros tournament to be extended to three weeks," French tennis federation President Bernard Giudicelli said.

"In the current context, we are fully aware of the privilege of being able to organise Roland-Garros in its usual form. Especially since the holding of qualifications will also participate in financially supporting a category of players and professional players affected by this unprecedented crisis."

While warning that everything was dependant on the COVID-19 crisis continuing to abate in France, the FFT said the tournament would have fans although the number had yet to be decided.

"It will absolutely not be behind closed doors. There is no final decision on the number of spectators, which will be decided on with the public authorities," Giudicelli told reporters on Wednesday.

The men's ATP Tour will resume on August 14 with the Citi Open, ATP 500 event in Washington, DC, while the first WTA event will be staged in Palermo, Italy from August 3.

Following the Citi Open, the Cincinnati Masters 1000 will be held at Flushing Meadows, followed by the US Open.

The men's claycourt swing will start on September 8 in Kitzbuhel, Austria, overlapping with the second week of the US Open. Players will then be able to get more time on clay at the Madrid and Italian Opens before Roland Garros.

The WTA announced 20 tournaments, beginning in Palermo, before Cincinnati (played at Flushing Meadows) and the US Open before moving to the clay of Madrid and Rome.

After that the WTA Tour will traverse Europe and Asia Pacific, including the China Open in Beijing and the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen set for November 9-15.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said its ITF World Tour, the domain of lower-ranked players, will resume on August 3 for women and August 17 for men.