WASHINGTON, August 18, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
A day after winning her second WTA singles title of the year, in Prague on clay, World No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania weighed “all the factors involved and with exceptional circumstances in which we are living,” and decided to not play in the US Open this year.
In revealing her decision via Twitter on Monday afternoon, Halep became the sixth Top 10 women’s player to opt out of coming to New York due to the coronavirus pandemic, where the US Open begins on August 31 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., under strict health and safety protocols for the players and their traveling parties with no spectators allowed to attend.
“After weighing up all the factors involved and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the US Open,” Halep wrote. “I have always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe. I know the USTA and WTA have worked tirelessly to put on a safe event and I wish everyone there a successful tournament.”
After weighing up all the factors involved and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the @usopen
I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) August 17, 2020
Had Halep decided to play in the second major of the year following the five-month hiatus of professional tennis, she would have been the No. 1 seed in the absence of World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who previously declared she would stay home. Instead, it leaves World No. 3 Karolina Pliskova, the only European in the Top 10 who will has committed to the US Open, as the top seed. Only four of the current Top 10 – Pliskova, No. 4 Sofia Kenin, No. 9 Serena Williams and No. 10 Naomi Osaka – will be competing at this year’s US Open.
Besides Barty and Halep, other Top 10 players who previously withdrew from the US Open include: No. 5 Elina Svitolina, reigning champion and No. 6 Bianca Andreescu, No. 7 Kiki Bertens and No. 8 Belinda Bencic.
Former US Open champion Tracy Austin, who now is a tennis analyst for Tennis Channel, said she respects Halep’s decision. She wrote on Twitter: “Not a surprise Simona Halep pulled out of the US Open. Simona chose not to go to Rio Olympics because of Zika Virus. Athletes love to compete but everyone has their comfort level during these unprecedented times.”
Western & Southern Open: Pliskova is top seed
With World No. 2 Simona Halep out of the picture now, No. 3 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic becomes the top seed, both at the Western & Southern Open and the US Open. Based upon commitments, the eight top-ranked players playing in New York are: No. 3 Pliskova, No. 4 Sofia Kenin, No. 9 Serena Williams, No. 10 Naomi Osaka, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 12 Petra Kvitova, No. 13 Madison Keys, and No. 14 Johanna Konta.
A historic year calls for commemorative artwork ✅
— Western & Southern Open (@CincyTennis) August 13, 2020
Behind the scenes at the Top Seed Open
If you’ve ever wondered what goes into hosting and managing a WTA tournament, especially now during the Covid-19 pandemic, the WTA has put together an eight-minute video that looks back on the week that was in Lexington.
Nice look behind the scenes at the health/safety/media protocols at the Top Seed Open in Lexington last week, the 1st @WTA tour-level event held in the US since the COVID shutdown.https://t.co/YcJ21dy89s
— Courtney Nguyen (@FortyDeuceTwits) August 17, 2020
Happy 50th birthday, Jim Courier
It’s the half-century mark for Hall of Famer Jim Courier, who rose to No. 1 in the rankings, won 23 career titles and four Grand Slams (two Australian Open, two Roland Garros).
Jim Courier is 50 today. Once No. 1 & a 4-time Grand Slam singles champ & Davis Cup champ. Pillar of one of the greatest US tennis generations. For a guy who didn’t enjoy talking to the media when we covered him, he’s become one of the sport’s most eloquent & insightful analysts pic.twitter.com/mwwK94MZD4
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) August 17, 2020
Remembering Angela Buxton
British tennis player Angela Buxton, who passed away on Aug. 14 at age 85, won the women’s doubles title at both the 1956 French Championships and Wimbledon teamed with Althea Gibson. According to Wikipedia, “Buxton’s Judaism played a role throughout her career. Her religious background prevented full acceptance within the tennis world from an early age.”
In 2015, Buxton was inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame, honoring her for her doubles partnership and friendship with Hall of Famer Althea Gibson, whom she helped raise funds for the ailing Hall of Famer near the end of her life.
Last year, Buxton attended the unveiling of a statue honoring Althea Gibson on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the site of the US Open. The statue is located near Arthur Ashe Stadium.
My condolences to the family and friends of #AngelaBuxton after her passing 8/14/20 She was laid to rest today. Angela was a British tennis player who championed the friendship and support of #AltheaGibson when no one else would, in a racist era in our sport in the ‘50’s. #RIP 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/8GD8LRmahW
— Katrina Adams 🦋 (@katadams68) August 16, 2020
Saddened to hear of the passing of British tennis player Angela Buxton, friend and doubles partner of Althea Gibson. It was wonderful to spend time with her and hear her words about Althea at the unveiling of her statue @usopen last year.
Rest In Peace to a true champion. pic.twitter.com/y7YRoDBwie
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 17, 2020
What they’re sharing on social media
John Millman / Travel sure is different …
— John Millman (@johnhmillman) August 15, 2020
… But first impressions are really positive.
First impressions of the US Open series are really positive. It’s noticeable how hard the USTA has worked to create a comfortable and safe environment. I’m pumped to be back playing. Top effort from the entire USTA team.
— John Millman (@johnhmillman) August 17, 2020