World No.1 Ashleigh Barty has withdrawn from the US Open in a massive blow to the New York grand slam.
Not comfortable about travelling during the coronavirus pandemic, Barty is the biggest name yet to opt out of the August 31 to September 13 major because of the global heath crisis.
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"My team and I have decided that we won't be travelling to the US and Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year," Barty said in a statement to AAP 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.
"I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and I look forward to being back in the US next year.
"I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks."
Barty's announcement sent shockwaves through the tennis world, with fans expecting more withdrawals to follow.
The Aussie received plenty of support on social media, however, with fans understanding of her decision.
World No.1 Ash Barty has confirmed she won’t be playing the US Open.— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) July 29, 2020
She won’t be the last. If the event happens, it will be weird. We know this. Everything is weird currently.
I can't see any top players being there now. More likely to focus on the French. US Open if it happens will be a chance for second or third tier players to grab a major.— Jonathan Kennaugh (@jonkennaugh) July 29, 2020
Ash Barty pulling out of the US Open is enough by itself to torpedo the event's credibility and she's likely to be just one of many players who either can't or choose not to play.— Dan Brusca (@danbrusca) July 29, 2020
If it still goes ahead the winner will always carry a asterisk.
Another player with sense! Good on you @ashbarty The US is NOT controlling the pandemic well enough for players and their teams to be starting in less than a month!— Cindy Swoveland (@CPSwoveland) July 29, 2020
I agree 100% with Ash Barty and this means a lot the number one female player in the world says no to US Open! I applaud Ash for thinking with her head and not giving in to pressure. America is not a safe place due to coronavirus. Ash did the right thing proud of her!— OrvilleLloydDouglas🇨🇦🏳️🌈 (@OrvilleLloyd) July 29, 2020
@ashbarty. Very brave & commendable in your decision not to play the US open. Please ignore ppl who may criticise your decision. I'm 100% behind your decision. You will return back to the court, and will be looking forward to see you play again. Hope you & family stay safe. 😀😷— Govinder (@Governor085) July 29, 2020
Season up in the air for World No.1
Barty is still weighing up whether to resume her season in Europe and ultimately try to defend her French Open crown in Paris.
The claycourt major was rescheduled from May-June to a September 27 start.
"I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks," Barty said.
Barty has been closely monitoring the coronavirus situation at home in Queensland for months.
The 24-year-old was among a raft of big names to express concerns about the US Open going ahead as planned in the same annual timeslot despite Flushing Meadows at one stage being used as an emergency hospital for the outbreak.
Men's world No.1 Novak Djokovic and defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal were also doubtful starters but both have since entered the Southern and Western Open, which has been moved from Cincinnati to New York after USTA officials will create a biosecurity hub for three weeks.
But women's world No.2 Simona Halep, 2018 winner Naomi Osaka and defending champion Bianca Andreescu have not entered the Southern and Western Open, which starts on August 15.
with Yahoo Sport staff