John Isner, the top-ranked American men’s player in singles at No. 21, also is intent on playing. “I think it’s important for sport to get back and this is a good opportunity to get tennis back in the mainstream,” he said in a text message.
Williams has played just two WTA tournaments since losing in last year’s U.S. Open final to another youngster, Bianca Andreescu of Canada. But Williams is back in training, and Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Open’s new tournament director, confirmed on Wednesday that Williams had even had a court with the Open’s new hardcourt surface constructed at her Florida home.
A perquisite for a star? Certainly, but it is not unheard-of for leading players to train in private on a Grand Slam surface. Martina Hingis, the former No. 1, had a Rebound Ace hardcourt installed at her home in Switzerland during her heyday to prepare for the Australian Open.
The men’s and women’s tours have been on hiatus since mid-March because of the pandemic. Though tennis is particularly suited to social distancing with a net separating players, the global nature of the professional tours is a major obstacle. Though no schedule can be definite at this anxious stage, both tours announced their comeback plans on Wednesday.
The women’s tour is set to resume on Aug. 3 with a clay-court event in Palermo, Italy, followed by potential tournaments in Prague and Washington. Then it would continue to the doubleheader in New York with the transplanted Western Southern Open preceding the U.S. Open from Aug. 21 to 28.
The men’s tour would resume with the Citi Open in Washington on Aug. 14 with the New York doubleheader to follow.
After the U.S. Open, both tours would head to Europe for the postponed clay-court season with combined events in Madrid and Rome and then the French Open, a Grand Slam tournament that was rescheduled from late May to Sept. 27 to Oct. 11.