World number one Ashleigh Barty has decided not to defend her French Open tennis title this year, pulling out of the tournament due to the coronavirus. The Australian tennis star said last year’s Open had been “the most special tournament of my career so this is not a decision I have made lightly”. She cited the health risks, and the inability to train effectively with her coach in recent months. Ms Barty had already decided to sit out the US Open, currently under way. Defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal and world number two Simona Halep have also decided not to take part in the US Open in New York. Barty, 24 and from Brisbane, explained that she had been unable to reunite with her Melbourne-based coach because of the state border closure imposed in Australia to prevent the spread of the virus.
” It has been a challenging year for everyone and although I am disappointed on a tennis front, the health and well-being of my family and my team will always be my priority. Thank you to my fans for your continued support, I can’t wait to play for you again,” she said. The French Open is due to get under way later this month, with reduced numbers of spectators and strict health protocols. Serena Williams has yet to decide whether she will participate too. France, like several European countries, is experiencing a rise in coronavirus infections.