Tennis: French Open postponed seven days amid fresh COVID-19 outbreak

This year's French Open has been postponed a week, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will now begin on May 31.

The claycourt Grand Slam, which was postponed by four months last year and took place in front of limited crowds, will finish on June 13, two weeks before the expected start of Wimbledon.

The grasscourt Grand Slam says it will not change its dates after the French Open's decision, which it supports.

"This decision has been discussed with the Grand Slam Board and, given the exceptional circumstances, is fully supported by the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open," Wimbledon says.

The postponement means grasscourt events scheduled to start on June 7 in Hertogenbosch (WTA and ATP), Stuttgart (ATP) and Nottingham (WTA) will clash with the second week of the claycourt Major.

FFT president Gilles Moreton says it consulted with public authorities, the governing bodies of international tennis, and its partners and broadcasters, and hoped the delay would allow more fans on the grounds than last year, when only 1000 were allowed at Roland Garros every day.

"It will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimise our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland Garros," says Moreton.

"For the fans, the players and the atmosphere, the presence of spectators is vital for our tournament - the spring's most important international sporting event."

The FFT was heavily criticised for postponing last year's tournament until the end of September without consulting the elite men's and women's tours, who have been kept in the loop this time.

"Both the ATP and WTA are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimise the calendar for players, tournaments and fans in the lead up to and following Roland Garros," the WTA and ATP say.

France entered a third nationwide lockdown last week to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, with President Emmanuel Macron hoping to "re-open" the country about mid-May.