U.S. Open Gets Big Boost With Serena Williams' Commitment
Serena Williams is the "first superstar to commit to playing" in this year’s U.S Open, which will be played in its regular time period without fans, according to Barbara Barker of NEWSDAY. Williams' presence gives "some legitimizing heft to the USTA’s decision to go ahead with the tournament despite the challenges presented by holding it during a worldwide pandemic in a city whose resources already have been stretched thin." Barker: "It won't be exactly normal to be competing in an empty stadium and holding postmatch news conferences via Zoom. Williams seems to know this, but she also seems to know that it is important to get back on the court" (NEWSDAY, 6/18). USTA CEO Michael Dowse said, “Each player is going to have to make their own decision, and we control what we do.” There are "a lot of top players out there who are very anxious to get back on the courts and start competing again" ("Tennis Channel Live," Tennis Channel, 6/17).
SERENA THE SAVIOR? The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Woody Paieg said Williams “may save the U.S. Open.” ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez also noted it “seems like she saved the tournament, because if an American woman isn’t going to play on her native soil during all of this” then “why would any international player come” and play (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/17). Tennis Channel’s Tracy Austin said the U.S. Open “needed Serena” to compete because “everybody is going to wasn’t to tune in” to see if she sets the Grand Slam record. Austin: “Hopefully, some of the other players will see that Serena is playing and she will be the leader with that. I think it’s important to have some of those marquee names.” Tennis Channel's Paul Annacone noted tennis is a "star-driven sport, and there are no bigger stars than Serena Williams. So to see her committing to play ... is a huge sigh of relief for everybody” (“Tennis Channel Live,” Tennis Channel, 6/17).
WELL DONE, U.S. TENNIS: SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote he is heaping "abundant praise on the USTA" for its decision to go on with the event. Wertheim: "This organization, not often accused of being nimble, went to great lengths and showed great creativity to make this event happen. Yet this was not a rogue exercise. This was done while consulting data and science ... and working with, not at odds, local and state government." More Wertheim: "I'm guardedly optimistic here. Happy for tennis, but not naive to the risks" (SI.com, 6/17).