World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty pulls out of US Open over New York travel concerns

Jack Baer
·2 min read

The top player in women’s tennis is pulling out of the US Open.

Ashleigh Barty, ranked No. 1 in the WTA singles rankings, told The New York Times on Wednesday that she will not play in the US Open due to concerns about traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.

This will mark the first time the top-ranked women’s singles players has missed the US Open since Serena Williams withdrew from the 2010 tournament with a foot injury.

From the Times:

“I love both events so it was a difficult decision,” Barty said in a statement sent to Australian media outlets on Thursday. “But there are still significant risks involved due to Covid-19, and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.”

The Australian also reportedly said she will not play in the Western & Southern Open, regarded as the second-biggest U.S. event of the summer. The tournament, usually held in Cincinnati, will be moved to the US Open’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York this year to cut down on travel for players.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07: A general view during the Women's Singles final match between Bianca Andreescu of Canada and Serena Williams of the United States on day thirteen of the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 07, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
It's going to be a different US Open this year. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Different US Open this year

Like virtually every other sporting event in the country, the US Open is on track to feature no fans in New York when it begins in late August.

How many elite players show up is also reportedly a question right now, as four other members of the top 10 — No. 2 Simona Halep, No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 6 Bianca Andreescu and No. 10 Naomi Osaka — have not entered the Western & Southern Open, which starts on Aug. 20 and reportedly did not respond to messages from the Times about playing in the US Open.

Players pulling out, a natural consequence of a sport featuring players from so many different countries amid a global pandemic, seems to be expected by the person in charge of the Open, per the Times:

“I respect every player’s decision,” said Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Open tournament director, who has been pushing hard with her staff to salvage the tournament, which will be played without spectators and with extensive health precautions. “Ash made her decision on what she thinks is best for her and her team. We wish her well, and I am looking forward to seeing her return to play as she is a fan favorite.”

The rescheduled French Open is scheduled to begin the next month on Sept. 21. Barty told the Times she will make a decision on that event in the coming weeks.

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