Top-ranked Ash Barty withdraws from U.S. Open over pandemic travel concerns

No. 1-ranked Ash Barty says she has withdrawn from the U.S. Open because she is not comfortable with travelling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Barty is the biggest name yet to opt out of the Aug. 31-Sept. 13 Grand Slam tournament in New York because of the global health crisis.

“My team and I have decided that we won’t be travelling to Western and Southern Open and the U.S. Open this year,” Barty said in a statement to Australian Associated Press on Thursday. “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, who won the French Open in 2019 for her first singles major, said she’s yet to decide on whether to play the clay court major. The French Open was postponed earlier in the year and rescheduled to start Sept. 27.

“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and I look forward to being back in the U.S. next year,” Barty said.

It would be difficult for Barty to travel overseas because Australia has closed its international borders, and she’d expressed concerns more than a month ago about leaving the country to play tennis. Technically, Barty would have to receive permission from the Australian government to travel abroad, and flight options are limited.

Anyone returning to Australia also would have to spend two weeks in quarantine.