Paris – The 2021 French Open will be delayed by one week, a source close to the organizers said Wednesday.
The clay-court Grand Slam was set to begin May 23, but will now get underway on May 30 in hopes more fans will be able to attend the tournament at Roland Garros.
Last year’s French Open was delayed by four months and held in September and October instead of its longstanding May and June slot.
Crowds were limited to just 1,000 spectators each day.
While coronavirus restrictions were tightened across France last Wednesday, professional sports are carrying on, albeit behind closed doors. President Emmanuel Macron has expressed a wish to re-open cinemas, museums and theatres in mid-May.
On Tuesday, the French sports ministry told AFP the government was discussing a possible delay of “a few days.” French player Alize Cornet hit out at sports minister Roxana Maracineanu and Macron’s government over the postponement.
“It stays between us but our sport minister is a disaster,” Cornet told the Tennis Channel after her second-round win over Elise Mertens at the WTA event in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday.
“I’m sorry, I have nothing against her but she only takes bad decisions for sport like she doesn’t care. And I know it comes from the government, I’m pretty sure.
“(It) might come also from the tournament because I heard they might have more people if they postpone for one week.
“But still, I think it’s a pretty selfish decision to be honest because the calendar is going to suffer from this postponement.” Last month, Gilles Moretton, the new president of the French Tennis Federation, said he “dared not” consider an outright cancellation.
“If we go into total lockdown for two months, we will obviously need to take measures — the worst being the outright cancellation, but I dare not imagine that,” he said.
Rafael Nadal is the defending men’s champion after winning a record-extending 13th French Open last year, while Iga Swiatek of Poland is the reigning women’s champion.
The professional tours were suspended from March until August last year and Wimbledon was canceled.
This year’s Australian Open was postponed by three weeks, although Wimbledon is still scheduled to take place in its usual slot, starting on June 28.
The new French Open dates should not significantly affect the grass-court season, although the initial Wimbledon warmup events start on June 7.
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