French Open 2020: Defending champion Ashleigh Barty pulls out
World number one Ashleigh Barty, on Tuesday, announced that she won't defend her French Open crown due to coronavirus fears. The Australian, who clinched her maiden Grand Slam at the 2019 Roland Garros, said it was a "difficult" decision, but the health of her family and team remains the priority. Previously, Barty also pulled out of the US Open, currently underway in New York.
Barty explains the reason behind her withdrawal
"There are two reasons for my decision. The first is health risks that still exist with COVID-19. The second is my preparation, which has not been ideal without my coach being able to train with me due to state border closures in Australia," said Barty.
Barty's official post on Instagram
It has been a difficult decision to make but unfortunately I will not be competing in Europe this year. 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.
She hasn't competed in any WTA tournament since March
Barty lives in Queensland, which has been relatively successful in containing the novel coronavirus of late. However, it has closed its borders to the south-eastern states, wherein the cases have been flaring up. Meanwhile, Barty hasn't played any WTA tournament since the tour was halted due to the global COVID-19 outbreak in March. However, she is eyeing a return later this year.
'I look forward to the upcoming season in Australia'
After opting out of the French Open, Barty shifts her focus to the impending Australian season. "I now look forward to a long pre-season and the summer in Australia," Barty added. "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."
Barty won the French Open in 2019
In 2019, Ashleigh Barty secured her maiden Grand Slam title after having won the French Open. The 24-year-old stormed to glory with a straight-set victory over Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova (6-1, 6-3) in the final that was concluded in a mere one hour and 10 minutes. Notably, Barty became the first Australian woman to win the French Open since Margaret Court in 1973.
Barty played for Brisbane Heat in the inaugural Women's BBL
Barty, who presently leads the WTA Rankings, has been a former professional cricketer. In 2014, she took an indefinite break from tennis and played for the Brisbane Heat in the inaugural Women's Big Bash League season despite having no prior experience.
French Open to begin on September 21
The French Open was originally scheduled to commence on May 24, however, the coronavirus pandemic led its postponement. It will now run from September 21-October 11. For the first time since 1947, the event won't be held in the traditional May-June window. The French Tennis Federation recently announced that a maximum of 11,500 spectators will be allowed to attend the event per day.