Top-Ranked Tennis Player Ash Barty Opts out of 2020 US Open Amid COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2020

Australia's Ashleigh Barty celebrates after defeating Alison Riske of the U.S. during their fourth round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

Ashleigh Barty has opted out of the 2020 U.S. Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WTA's No. 1-ranked player also won't compete in the Western & Southern Open, a prominent tune-up event annually for the U.S. Open.

"I love both events, so it was a difficult decision, but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19, and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position," Barty said, per CNN's Jill Martin. "I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the U.S. next year."

The Associated Press' John Pye noted the hurdles in place for Barty to make the trip to the United States:

"Australia's closed international borders would make it difficult for Barty to travel overseas during the pandemic. Technically, Barty would have to receive permission from the government to travel abroad, and flight options are limited. Upon returning to Australia, travelers face a mandatory two weeks in quarantine."

Martin noted Simona Halep (No. 2), Bianca Andreescu (No. 6) and Naomi Osaka (No. 10) are all absent from the Western & Southern Open field. The event is traditionally staged in Mason, Ohio, but was moved to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York because of the pandemic.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on plans to hold this year's U.S. Open without fans in New York City starting Aug. 31. It will be the second Grand Slam of the 2020 season after the All England Club canceled the Wimbledon Championships, while the French Open was postponed until Sept. 27.

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Barty won the 2019 French Open but hasn't decided on whether she'll attempt to defend her title at Roland Garros. The 24-year-old said she'll make an announcement "in the coming weeks."

Barty hasn't stepped onto the court since February. She won the Adelaide Invitational in January and reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, losing to eventual champion Sofia Kenin.

The WTA, along with the ATP Tour, began postponing events in March because of the pandemic. The WTA is scheduled to resume Monday with the Palermo Open. The Western & Southern Open will mark the return of the ATP Tour on Aug. 20.

Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.