The French Open, traditionally the second of tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments, has been postponed from May until September. The start was pushed back to Sept. 20, a week after the scheduled conclusion of the U.S. Open, making it the fourth Grand Slam of the year.
Playing two Grand Slam tournaments in quick succession will test players’ conditioning and test their adaptability in shifting from hard court to clay with little time to adjust. The change also causes a scheduling conflict with the Laver Cup, a men’s team event scheduled to be held in Boston from Sept. 25-27.
The Australian Open was played this year before the coronavirus pandemic began. Novak Djokovic won the men's title and Sofia Kenin was the women's winner, her first Slam singles title. The French Open was to have been played on the red clay of Roland-Garros Stadium from May 24-June 7.
Wimbledon officials said Tuesday, “At this time, we continue to plan for The Championships and the grass court season.” Wimbledon is scheduled to be played from June 29-July 12.
France is under a virtual lockdown in the country's effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Directives limiting public movement and activity were cited by French Open officials in saying they could not continue with preparations to stage the tournament on its originally scheduled dates.
“We have made a difficult yet brave decision in this UNPRECEDENTED situation, which has evolved greatly since last weekend. We are acting responsibly, and must work together in the fight to ensure everybody’s health and safety,” said Bernard Giudicelli, president of the French Tennis Federation.
The statement added, “In order to act responsibly and protect the health of its employees, service providers and suppliers during the organisation period, the FFT has chosen the only option that will allow them to maintain the 2020 edition of the tournament while joining the fight against COVID-19.
“At this important period in its history, and since the progress of the stadium modernisation means the tournament can be held at this time, the FFT was keen to maintain the 2020 tournament. Therefore, this year’s Roland-Garros will be held from 20th September to 4th October. This decision was made in the interest of both the community of professional tennis players, whose 2020 season has already been compromised, and of the many fans of tennis and Roland-Garros.”
The tennis calendar has been rearranged by the coronavirus pandemic. The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, which is considered the unofficial fifth major tournament each year, was to have been played this week but was canceled because of public health directives issued for Riverside County. The Miami Open, the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, S.C., and tournaments in Bogota, Colombia, and Guadalajara also were wiped out. On March 12, the men’s tour announced a suspension of events across the ATP tour and lower level ATP Challenger Tour.