When tennis tours released their road maps for a return to the game in August on Wednesday, Serena Williams confirmed her desire to be an important part of these comeback plans and to play at this year's United States Open.
"Ultimately, I can't wait to go back to New York and play," she said in a video message. "I feel like the United States. will do a really good job of making sure everything is fantastic and everything is perfect and everyone is safe. “
Your announcement was welcome news for the Open, a Grand Slam that is unlikely to be a strong field this year without on-site spectators and with exceptional health and safety measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I will definitely miss the fans, don't get me wrong," said Williams, who is still number 9 among singles at the age of 38. "Just being out there in the New York crowd and cheering everyone to hear – I'll miss that and get myself through some of those tough games. "
Of course, Williams hasn't always heard applause from the USTA at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Her relationship to the tournament, in which she won six of her 23 major individual titles was full of high notes, but also of mismatched passages, such as the rancid individual final 2018 in which she lost to upstart Naomi Osaka after clashing with referee Carlos Ramos' chairman and receiving three code violations.
Williams' announcement was part of a United States Tennis Association video conference on Wednesday to officially announce plans for this year's tournament. It was confirmed that it will be held from August 31 to September 13, and undeniably needs star power.
Roger Federer dropped out due to knee surgery and the two best singles players on the men's and women's tours – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep – all expressed their initial reluctance.
"I would be surprised if it were 100 percent," said Steve Simon, leader of the WTA tour, sai d des Frauenfeldes. "I think their positions will evolve based on what is happening in the world. Some will feel comfortable with it; some will not. Nobody forces anyone to play."
But an aging Williams who Trying to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles remains irresistible at the US Open, and USTA’s increasingly flexible approach to allowing players with more than one team member to New York traveling and staying in private homes has certainly made it easier to get involved with Williams, who normally travels with her family, including her daughter Olympia .. and her staff.
John Isner, the top-ranked American men's individual player 21st place also wants to play. "I think it is important that the sport comes back and this is a good opportunity to bring tennis back into the mainstream," said e r in a text message.
Williams has only played two WTA tournaments to another youth since his defeat in last year's US Open final, Bianca Andreescu from Canada . But Williams is back in training and Stacey Allaster, the new tournament director of the US Open, confirmed on Wednesday that Williams even had a place with the Open's new hard court surface at her home in Florida.
A perquisite for a star? Sure, but it's not uncommon for leading players to train privately on a grand slam surface. Martina Hingis, the former No. 1 had a rebound ace hard court installed in her heyday in her house in Switzerland to prepare for the Australian Open.
Tours for men and women have been interrupted since mid-March due to the pandemic. Although tennis is particularly suitable for social distancing with a network that separates players, the global nature of professional tours is a major obstacle. Although no schedule can be set in this anxious phase, both tours announced their comeback plans on Wednesday.
The women's tour continues on August 3 with a clay court event in Palermo, Italy, followed by possible tournaments in Prague and Washington. Then it went on to the double header in New York with the transplanted Western & Southern Open before the US Open from August 21 to 28.
The men's tour would continue with the Citi Open in Washington on August 14th with the New York double headers following.
After the US Open, both tours went to Europe to postpone the clay court season with combined events in Madrid and Rome, and then the French Open, a Grand Slam tournament that was postponed from late May to September 27th to 11th October.
In contrast to the US Open, the Madrid Open and French Open could be played with spectators. Mark Ein, who owns the Citi Open in Washington, has also not ruled out that only a limited number of fans are present. He said the tournament would undoubtedly be at a loss this year, but claimed that it was worth the sacrifice.
"I often asked myself:" Why are we doing this? "He said." I think it has been such a difficult year in our world and in our community. I think people will look forward to that. It is a real honor to have this opportunity, but it is also a great responsibility. “
One said the Citi Open, like the United States. in New York would create a controlled environment for gamers and staff with frequent testing and a limited number of people on site to reduce the risk of infection. One said the players would travel to New York independently from Washington, as international players are expected to arrive independently in the United States.
USA. Officials stated that they did not rely on tracking or security measures, but rather that the players were reasonable enough not to venture out of the bubble and endanger the health of others involved in the tournament.
"If they become infected like the inner bladder is, they will have no physical contact with any of the other players," said Brian Hainline, a USTA vice president, said about the planned social detachment. "If someone tests positive during the tournament, we are confident that the disease will not spread to the other players because everything has been worked out and modeled."
Both tours have contracts with tournaments to reduce prize money this season to offset the expected loss of revenue from ticket sales and sponsorship. Simon said discounts on the WTA tour ranged from 18 percent for low-level international events to more than 32 percent for premium Premier Mandatory events like Madrid. The men's tour will turn this model around because the Masters 1000 events save proportionately less prize money than the lower class events.
Simon said that if the preliminary schedule is correct, the WTA tour will have managed to play around 60 percent.
Both tours also aim to get their tour final – the ATP in London and the WTA in Shenzhen, China – which account for a large part of their sales.
"If we can play that, we are much better positioned than usual at this year's finale," said Simon. "But anyway, like everyone else, we were seriously injured this year."