Alize Cornet, world no.59, criticised the decision to postpone this year’s Roland Garros tournament by a week – now starting on May 30 – given the impact it will then have on the rest of the tennis calendar: which includes shortening this summer’s grasscourt season by a week.
French Open 2021 to now start on May 31
French daily newspaper L’Equipe reported on Wednesday that French Open organisers had agreed to a one-week delay, to accomodate the latest national COVID-19 lockdown in France which began on April 3 after a surge in ICU admissions.
The target is reopening the country by mid-May, with a week-long postponement potentially allowing for more fans to attend the tournament.
Last year, there were a maximum of 1,000 supporters permitted at one given time throughout the fortnight, which eventually took place in September-October after being rescheduled.
In a statement via ESPN, FFT president Gilles Moreton said:
“It will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimise our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros.
For the fans, the players and atmosphere, the presence of spectators is vital for our tournament, the spring’s most important international sporting event.”
Moreton said the decision had only been finalised after working with local authorities, TV broadcasters and the two organising bodies – ATP and WTA – coming after French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu revealed a start date postponement was possible.
After beating seventh seed Elise Mertens to reach R3 of this week’s WTA 500 event in Charleston, she was asked to give her reaction to the report. Roxana was the cause of the 31-year-old’s ire:
“I didn’t know. Our [French] sport minister is a disaster. Sorry, I’m sorry, I have nothing against her, but she only takes bad decisions for sports, like she doesn’t care. 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], but it’s a pretty selfish decision because the calendar is going to suffer from this postponement.
I understand it’s not an easy time for the tournament, but we have to think about the players, calendar and all they have to try to fit in this [year].”
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What now for the grass court season?
As Cornet said, the big immediate issue – besides rescheduled date inconvenience – is shortening the window between the French Open’s end (June 13) and the Wimbledon start (June 28).
The Grand Slam Board released a statement supporting the FFT’s decision to delay, while announcing the grass court season – always short – would last two weeks, rather than three.
Picture source: Getty