Australian Open 2021: Federer, Serena among entries for Slam event
Tennis legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams were among the entries announced Thursday for the coronavirus-disrupted Australian Open. According to AFP, tournament director Craig Tiley has vowed a "happy Slam" after months of painstaking planning. Federer, who missed the majority of a disrupted 2020 season, will want to make his presence felt. The same goes for Serena, who is awaiting a 24th singles Grand Slam.
Federer in line to feature after knee surgery
Notably, there was a question mark over Federer, who warned this month he was in a "race against time" to be fit after two rounds of knee surgery. However, he has begun training in Dubai and was among those who entered to play at Melbourne Park. Federer is targeting a seventh Australian Open title and his 21st career Slam.
Serena aiming to go level with Margaret Court
Meanwhile, US superstar Serena, who is set to turn 40 next year, is also committed. She will once again attempt to pull level with Margaret Court as a 24-time Grand Slam champion. Her last triumph at a Slam event came in Australia in 2017 when she was pregnant. Post that, she has been a four-time finalist across Slam events.
Djokovic, Barty to lead the line at Australian Open
Men's world number one Novak Djokovic will lead the line alongside women's top player Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open 2021. On December 21, 2020, Djokovic began his 300th week as the No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings. He became just the second player in history to achieve this milestone. Djokovic could surpass record-holder Federer (310 weeks) on March 8, 2021.
Australian Open is braced for many great storylines
Tiley said Australian Open is braced for many great storylines. "Serena is gunning for her eighth title while Novak, who often seems invincible at Melbourne Park, is going for a record ninth title," Tiley said. "Our own world No.1 Ash Barty will return to Grand Slam competition, as will Roger Federer as he comes back from injury," he added.
AO 2021 was recently pushed to February 8
The Australian Open 2021 has been pushed back to February 8 after weeks of negotiations as COVID-19 disruption hits a second Grand Slam tennis season. According to AFP, the men's qualifiers will be held in Doha. Meanwhile, Australia will host a series of build-up events including the flagship ATP Cup, the men's ATP Tour said, announcing its early 2021 schedule.
Safety of everyone is our top priority, says Tiley
Tiley said that safety will be the main priority. "Although the AO will look a bit different from previous years, the safety of everyone is our top priority," said Tiley. "We have the opportunity to stage a very safe, and happy Slam, and give the players the experience of competing in front of crowds again, something they've missed for most of this year."