It also ultimately helped cause several top European players, including the former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, to skip the United States Open, which took place in early September. Players had little time to recover from a Grand Slam event played on a hardcourt and prepare for one on clay. The move paid off for Nadal, who won a record 13th French Open men’s singles title in October. Organizers limited crowds to just 1,000 spectators each day.
For months, as infection rates in France have remained stubbornly high and as the European Union has struggled to distribute coronavirus vaccines, organizers of the French Open have been studying situations for once again holding the signature event in front of smaller crowds. Last week, however, President Emmanuel Macron of France enacted a third national lockdown as the rate of coronavirus infections continued to escalate, imperiling the tournament.
Afterward, Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Tennis Federation, said if France’s citizens were still under restrictions next month the organization might have to consider canceling the event.
“If we are told a general confinement for two months, we will necessarily have to take measures — at worst, complete cancellation, but I dare not imagine that,” Moretton told Agence France-Presse.
Before the new lockdown, Macron had tried to keep France open, hoping that increasing vaccinations would help slow the spread of the virus. Instead, with the country’s death toll from Covid-19 approaching 100,000, he closed all but the most essential businesses, limited citizens to a six-mile radius from their homes, prohibited travel between regions and set a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Professional sports are still allowed to take place, but without spectators.