Fresh off her runner-up finish at the U.S. Open earlier this month, Victoria Azarenka is set to kick off her French Open bid on Sunday in Paris.
Yet Azarenka is nervous to do so.
The former World No. 1 isn’t worried about her game, however, but the fact that the French Open will allow 1,000 spectators to attend matches amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Obviously, having spectators and playing in front of fans, it’s always what I would prefer to do,” she said on Friday, via ESPN. “But I feel like as all players, [we] are a little bit nervous about the health situation … [and] having these circumstances.”
France has had more than 513,000 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 31,600 deaths attributed to it. They have had a massive spike in cases in recent weeks, too. The country has seen more than 11,000 new cases a day over the past week, and recorded a record 29,000 new cases on Thursday alone.
Officials to let 1,000 fans attend French Open
French officials started cutting down the number of fans that would be allowed to attend the Grand Slam tournament — something organizers had initially hoped to allow 20,000 people into.
On Thursday, health officials reduced that number down to just 1,000 people, though it’s unclear if they will be limited to the main stadium or if they can move around the grounds.
Azarenka fell to Naomi Osaka in the finals at the U.S. Open earlier this month, and will enter the French Open as the No. 10 seed. The 31-year-old is now ranked No. 14 in the world, a massive rise from her No. 208 ranking at the end of the 2017 season.
The U.S. Open was held without fans completely, something Azarenka thought worked out great. Switching that up now, she said, doesn’t make any sense.
“If it’s only one court [where fans are allowed], I think it’s going to be a little bit weird for other players,” she said, via ESPN. “I don’t know why we’re trying something new because obviously we already had one Grand Slam in front of us where it seemed like things worked out well [with spectators prohibited].
“I guess we always need to try something new for no reason.”
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