Serena Williams will renew her bid for an all-time record-tying 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open, as she announced in an exclusive video message on USOpen.org.
"I really cannot wait to return to New York and play the US Open 2020," she said on Wednesday. "I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring that everything is amazing, perfect, and that everyone is safe.?It's going to be exciting. It's been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis."
Williams won her first Grand Slam title as a teenager at the 1999 US Open, and has gone on to win it a total of six times - most recently in 2014. Playing the tournament twice since marrying and giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., the American has twice reached the final, finishing runner-up to Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu.
The US Open was officially announced to take place as part of the larger resumption of professional tennis, which has been suspended due to concerns relating to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The United States Professional Tennis Association (USTA) will host both the US Open and Western & Southern Open - the latter is usually hosted in Cincinnati, Ohio - at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“These two events are the summer’s biggest tennis blockbusters in the US, and we are thrilled for the players, our fans, and all of our partners, that we will be able to mark the return of tennis,” said Mike Dowse, USTA Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director. "These tournaments also serve as an inspiration to tennis players of all levels, encouraging them to get out and play given the social distancing nature of our sport.”
The USTA released a comprehensive plan to address safety concerns, which has been approved by the New York State government, and will take place without fans in attendance.
“The decision to hold the 2020 US Open without fans was not an easy one, but ultimately it was the correct one,” said Stacey Allaster, the USTA's Chief Executive of Professional Tennis and former WTA Chairman and CEO, who will also serve as the US Open's tournament director. “To mitigate risk, we must minimize numbers on-site. Though we will not have fans on our site, we will engage with tennis fans around the world in new and exciting ways with the help of our global broadcast partners, and all our US Open sponsors.”
"I'll certainly miss the fans," Serena added in her video, "just being out there in front of that New York crowd, hearing everyone cheer. I'll really miss that, having got me through those tough matches. This is crazy, but I'm excited."
The WTA tour is provisionally scheduled to resume on August 3 with the 31° Palermo Ladies Open. Tennis Canada previously announced that the Rogers Cup, scheduled to take place in Montréal, was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.