Tennis fans all over the world have a reason to rejoice and look forward to 2021. Following a rollercoaster 2020 season, Grand Slams may be back in full force next year. After the Australian Open which concluded on February 2, no other Grand Slam this year has had a full audience or a full roster of top players.
The Wimbledon Championships were cancelled due to the raging pandemic. The US Open took place with no audience and without men's World No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 4 Roger Federer. In the women's draw, both the top seeds, Ash Barty and Simona Halep pulled out, along with defending champion Bianca Andreescu and multiple other big names. French Open 2020 is also missing big names like Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios, defending champion Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Andreescu.
Speaking to Nine's Wide World of Sports, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley confirmed yesterday that Australian Open 2021 will commence on January 18, 2021. Tiley said that following the success of the US Open and French Open 2020, Tennis Australia is confident regarding hosting 2021's first Grand Slam. He added that he has been in close touch with the organisers and medical staff at the tournaments and at home in order to plan Australian Open 2021. The Slam is expected to go on with a 50% audience presence.
According to Tiley's plan, the players will be expected to fly to the continent late in December 2020 where they will quarantine for 14 days in various cities. Tiley said that he hopes this will create a bubble within which the players can then travel to Melbourne Park. Incidentally, Melbourne is a part of the state of Victoria, which was under strict lockdown impositions after witnessing a surge of COVID-19 cases.
It is expected that these restrictions will be reduced by next year. Tiley also said that the association hopes to host over six weeks of tennis, with some smaller practise opportunities before the main Grand Slam.
One of the most anticipated announcements for the Australian Open 2021 was whether Roger Federer would be back in contention at the Slam. In his interview yesterday, Tiley confirmed the Swiss maestro's participation at the Slam. He also confirmed that Serena Williams would be back in competition at Melbourne Park.
Roger Federer's last professional game this year was at the Australian Open, where he was soundly defeated by World No. 1 and eventual winner Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. Federer announced that he would be sitting out on the rest of the season to recuperate from knee surgery.
Serena Williams, still chasing Margaret Court's 24 Grand Slam singles titles, will also be returning from injury. Serena Williams pulled out of her French Open 2020 second-round match due to an Achilles injury. Before that, she reached the semi-final at US Open 2020.