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Serena Williams excited to play, other tennis stars concerned about U.S. Open

Serena Williams and other American tennis players have voiced support for the USTA's decision to proceed with the U.S. Open. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Serena Williams and other American tennis players have voiced support for the USTA's decision to proceed with the U.S. Open. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- Women's tennis star Serena Williams said Wednesday she is excited to play in the 2020 U.S. Open this summer in New York, but some foreign tennis players have COVID-19-related concerns about playing in the tournament.

The ATP Tour and WTA Tour released revised calendars Wednesday for the respective men's and women's tennis seasons. The tours have been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The WTA Tour will resume Aug. 3; the ATP Tour, Aug. 14.

"It's gonna be exciting. It's been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis," Williams said during a news conference for the U.S. Open.

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Both tennis tours will compete in the Western & Southern Open from Aug. 21 to 28 in New York City. They will return to the same venue at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the U.S. Open on Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.

The tournaments will be played with no fans in attendance.

"I'll certainly miss the fans, don't get me wrong," Williams said. "Just being out there with that New York crowd and to hear everyone cheer, I'll really miss that in some of those tough matches. But this is crazy; I'm excited."

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Williams' excitement was not matched by some fellow tennis stars. Men's world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal have expressed concerns about their safety at the U.S. Open.

Women's world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 2 Simona Halep have expressed similar concerns. Australian men's tennis player Nick Kyrgios on Monday called the United States Tennis Association "selfish" for their decision to proceed with the U.S. Open.

"I'll get my hazmat suit ready for when I travel from Australia and then have to quarantine for two weeks on my return," Kyrgios tweeted.

U.S. Open officials said Wednesday that players will make their final decisions whether to play in the U.S. Open two or three weeks before the tournament.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Tuesday that the USTA will use "extraordinary precautions" to protect competitors. Those precautions will include testing, cleaning, social distancing and safe accommodations.

The 2020 U.S. Open will not include qualifying for the singles draw and the doubles field will shrink by 50 percent, down to 32 teams from 64 on the men's and women's circuits.

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The French Open is the next Grand Slam on the schedule, planned to start Sept. 27 in Paris.

Nadal won the 2019 U.S. Open men's singles final. Canadian Bianca Andreescu won last year's women's singles final. Williams has six U.S. Open singles titles.

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