Tennis: Serena Williams 'cannot wait' to play in 2020 US Open

Serena Williams.
Serena Williams. Photo credit: Reuters

Fears that strict health protocols due to the coronavirus could deter the game's biggest names from competing at this year's US Open have been somewhat allayed with Serena Williams confirming she will play the event.

The event will be held without fans in New York from August 31, despite some players voicing concerns.

In a video message, the 23-time Grand Slam champion said she misses the excitement of competition and can't wait to play. 

"I really cannot wait to return to New York and play the US Open 2020," says Williams.

"I feel like the United States Tennis Association [USTA] is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe.

"It's going to be exciting. It's been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis.

"I'll certainly miss the fans, don't get me wrong, just being out there and that New York crowd and hearing everyone cheer," the six-time US Open champion said. "I'll really miss getting me through some of those tough matches. This is crazy. I'm excited."

A number of top players, including world number ones Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Australian Ash Barty along with reigning US Open men's champion Rafael Nadal, are among those who have expressed concerns about attending the event. 

Women's world number two Simona Halep says she won't attend the tournament due to the health protocols.

One sticking point is the number of support staff they can bring on-site, which the USTA said it is still trying to sort out.

The decision will impact the upper echelon of players who typically travel to events with a coach, hitting partner, physiotherapist and fitness guru.

"We understand the needs of athletes," US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster said.

"We just need to make sure that we navigate physical distancing and ensure that we keep everyone spread out and also everyone gets the proper training and preparation that they need."

Allaster also said players who do not want to stay at one of the two designated hotels can rent homes in the New York area but cannot stay in Manhattan.