By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday August 8, 2020
American Sloane Stephens hopes that tennis players and their entourages are ready to accept the important responsibilities that await them at the 2020 US Open.
The 27-year-old 2017 US Open champion talked to reporters today at a press conference ahead of the Top Seed Open in Lexington and said that even though the US Open’s protective bubble is designed to keep the coronavirus out, it’s ultimately up to the players and how much responsibility they take upon their own shoulders.
The jury is still out on whether or not tennis can handle that responsibility, Stephens says.
“My honest opinion is, I’ve said this from the very beginning, I said this on the first call we had with the USTA, that it might ultimately depend on others being responsible, and I think a lot of tennis players haven’t taken enough responsibility to take care of the other people surrounding them and the world surrounding them, so that’s been a little disappointing,” she said.
It has been a tricky summer for the sport and several top players have made the mistake of not taking the virus seriously enough. At the Adria Tour in the Balkans, World No.1 Novak Djokovic tested positive along with several other players, including Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric after holding events in Serbia and Croatia with very relaxed social distancing enforcement.
Sloane Stephens: “I guess going into the US Open they’d better have National Guard out there or something because it’s going to be a treat to see all of the crazy things that happen. But fingers crossed for a safe and COVID-free US Open” https://t.co/EJ0du4euYJ
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) August 8, 2020
Governments played a role in the problem, as Serbia had cleared major sporting events as it relaxed its policies. It’s another example of the complicated communication that must take place between the tours, the players and governmental authorities. Mixed messaging, as we’ve seen in the United States, won’t cut it.
Stephens says she’ll have her fingers crossed that things will go well in New York.
“We’re going in this bubble, we’ll just have to see,” she said. “I’m not sure what will happen, I’m not sure if people will take it seriously, but we just have to wait and see. I would hate for it to be a situation where someone actually gets sick or gets the virus or something terrible happens, but that is the reality of people not taking responsibility or doing what’s best for other people surrounding them and their co-workers and fellow players or whatever, so I guess I’ll just have to pray.”
The American says that now is the time for players to think about their peers and the world at large and stop being selfish.
“Yes, I definitely think we’ve seen a lot of [selfishness],” she said. “I guess going to the US Open they better have the National Guard out there or something, because it’s going to be a treat to see all the crazy things that happen, but fingers crossed for a safe and Covid-free US Open.”