The 2021 French Open, due to start on 23 May, is being delayed by one week and the main draw will now begin on Sunday 30 May, with qualifying rounds to be held from Monday 24 May.
These remain extremely challenging times for communities around the world, and, while there is optimism for the future, it is clear that this pandemic is very much still with us. The Grand Slams represent the most significant spotlights for our sport and so we will do everything possible to ensure they can be staged successfully. Further to consultation, the decision by the FFT to postpone Roland-Garros by a week in order to enhance the likelihood of the tournament taking place successfully is therefore fully supported by the Grand Slam Board. Ugo Valensi, Executive Director of the Grand Slam Board
The decision has been taken because of the third wave of Covid-19 cases in France, and the move leaves only 15 days between the end of Roland Garros on Sunday 13 June and the start of The Championships at Wimbledon on Monday 28 June.
In a statement, the WTA says: “Tennis has required an agile approach to the calendar over the past 12 months in order to manage the challenges of the pandemic, and this continues to be the case.
“The decision to delay the start of Roland-Garros by one week has been made in the context of recently heightened COVID restrictions in France, with the additional time improving the likelihood of enhanced conditions and ability to welcome fans at the event.
“Both the WTA and ATP are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimise the calendar for players, tournaments, and fans, in the lead up to and following Roland-Garros.”
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has made the move in agreement with all the governing bodies of international tennis following after the French President announced on 31 March that a schedule to progressively get cultural and sporting events back up and running would be set up from mid-May onwards, subject to the improvement of the health situation.
Using this as their starting point, the FFT worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the relevant government services on potential scenarios for organising Roland-Garros, while taking the international sporting calendar into account.
In this context, it appeared that postponing the tournament by one week would be the best solution.
“I am delighted that the discussions with the public authorities, the governing bodies of international tennis, our partners and broadcasters, and the ongoing work with the WTA and ATP, have made it possible for us to postpone the 2021 Roland-Garros tournament by a week,” Gilles Moretton, President of the FFT said. “I thank them for this.
“It will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimise our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros, into our newly-transformed stadium that now covers more than 30 acres.
“For the fans, the players and the atmosphere, the presence of spectators is vital for our tournament, the spring’s most important international sporting event.”
Speaking on behalf of the four Grand Slams, Ugo Valensi, Executive Director of the Grand Slam Board commented: “These remain extremely challenging times for communities around the world, and, while there is optimism for the future, it is clear that this pandemic is very much still with us.
“The Grand Slams represent the most significant spotlights for our sport and so we will do everything possible to ensure they can be staged successfully.
“Further to consultation, the decision by the FFT to postpone Roland-Garros by a week in order to enhance the likelihood of the tournament taking place successfully is therefore fully supported by the Grand Slam Board.”
The FFT will continue working with the French administration to set out the most suitable public health and safety conditions for organising the tournament and these health and safety protocols will be announced at a later date. It means that players will have less time to transition between clay and grass courts in a return to the tight summer schedule that existed up until 2014 before Wimbledon moved back a week to allow for longer preparations.
While the French Open will now encroach on grass-court tournaments that are scheduled to start on 7 June, it is unlikely that these will be cancelled.
ATP and WTA events in Nottingham, Stuttgart and Rosmalen will still be able to welcome players who have lost in the first week of competition at Roland Garros.
The Queen’s Club Championships gets under way on June 14.
It seems that there is no prospect of Wimbledon also moving back a week because the Olympic Tennis Event is due to get underway in Tokyo 13 days after the conclusion of The Championships.
Meanwhile, the All England Club continues to plan for a reduced-capacity Championship that finishes on 11 July.
This is the second consecutive year that the French Open has had to move its dates because of the pandemic.
Last year there was a more drastic switch, from May to September.