American tennis champion Serena Williams has expressed that she is excited to participate in the upcoming 2020 staging of the U.S. Open. The mom-of-one said she “cannot wait to return” to competition, while some of her fellow players are more cautious at the prospect of playing at the New York-based tournament, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I really cannot wait to return in New York and play the U.S. Open 2020,” Williams said during a United States Tennis Association video presentation.
The 38-year-old former world number one will restart her quest to tie Australian Margaret Court’s 24 majors. The 23-time grand slam winner has been knocking at the door, since returning to the tennis circuit with a scaled-back schedule, following the birth of her daughter. Williams has impressively notched four combined runner up finishes at Wimbledon and U.S. Open over the past two years.
“I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe. It’s going to be exciting. It’s been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis,” the six-time Flushing Meadow champion added.
Governor Andrew Cuomo controversially announced that the tennis major will be a-go at Flushing Meadows from August 31 to September 13. The Open, the official said, will be played with a significantly reduced tournament, coaching, and general technical staff complements.
“It will be held without fans, but we can watch it on TV, and I’ll take that,” Cuomo said.
“I’ll certainly miss the fans, don’t get me wrong, just being out there and that New York crowd and hearing everyone cheer,” Williams lamented. “I’ll really miss that getting me through some of those tough matches. This is crazy. I’m excited.”
Additionally, line judges will be replaced by the existing electronic line-calling system, in most arenas. Singles qualifying as well as the mixed doubles, juniors and wheelchair competitions have all been totally scrapped. In a bid to allay preparation concerns and reduce traveling, the Cincinnati’s Western & Southern Open will be moved to the New York venue ahead of the U.S. Open.
Despite these precautionary measures being put in place, players Nick Kyrgios, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Ash Barty and Simona Halep have raised concerns about traveling and quarantine.
The United States Tennis Association assures that there will be routine Covid-19 testing carried out to protect the players and staff at the tournament.
The tournament will be the second grand slam to be held in 2020, after the Australian Open in February. The pandemic prompted the rescheduling of France’s Roland Garros and the cancellation of the United Kingdom’s Wimbledon. The French tournament was initially scheduled to be held from September 20 through October 4, which would give players a mere seven days to recoup and travel to the Paris after the U.S Open. Roland Garros has since pushed back the tourney by seven days, and will now commence on September 27.
Djokovic and Sofia Kenin are the most recent majors titleholder. The Serb and the American copped the men’s and women’s titles, respectively, at the 2020 Australian Open championships.