US Open Leading The Way For Diversity Both On And Off The Court - UBITENNIS
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US Open Leading The Way For Diversity Both On And Off The Court

The New York major hopes to inspire a new generation of tennis fans from a variety of backgrounds with the help of their initiatives, as well as the players.

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The mixture of players from different ethnicities and backgrounds reaching the latter stages of the US Open serves as a ‘good example’ for the global community in the eyes of Felix Auger-Aliassime.

 

The 20-year-old Canadian, whose father is originally from the African country of Togo, is one of two black men to reach the fourth round along with Frances Tiafoe. Reaching the second week of a major for the first time is not only a landmark in the career of the rising star, but one he hopes will help inspire younger kids in the game from different minorities. Auger-Aliassime grew up in Canada and interacted with various minorities from a young age in what he describes as a ‘melting point.’

“Seeing players from different ethnicities, different backgrounds reaching the later stages of tournaments like these, I think it’s a really good example for the people watching us, the kids,” he said.
“I was thinking that you want to send out a good message. You hope that you’re leading by example, that kids, in you, they see belief, that you can reach that whatever city, country you come from, whatever neighbourhood you come from.’
“I hope this gives a lot of belief to people, and it’s a good message of love.”

It isn’t just the men who are making waves in this department. This year 12 black American women played in the women’s single draw which almost equated to a tenth of the entire field. This includes those from multicultural backgrounds and wildcard recipients. In recent years the Williams sisters have been credited for triggering a surge of interest in the sport from non-white players. Out of the 12, 38-year-old Serena Williams is the only left in the draw.

Although it is not just on the court where the New York major is showcasing its diversity with Auger-Aliassime saying there is also a ‘good atmosphere’ behind the scenes.

“The players and staff, you have to understand the staff here in the locker rooms, in the backgrounds, behind the scenes of the site, there’s a lot of diversity, Black people. The support that we get from them, the connection, the laughs, it’s just a really good atmosphere. I think all the players here like it,” he commented.

World No.82 Tiafoe is the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone who moved to America via the Green Card lottery system during the 1990s. He grew up sleeping on the floor of a tennis facility in Maryland, where his father worked as a maintenance man. For the American, he hopes his journey is one others can relate to.

“Whether it’s tennis or whatever they’re doing, I just want to see people of colour in my communities win,” Tiafoe said following his win over Marton Fucsovics on Saturday.
“If they get the inspiration from Frances Tiafoe, that’s even better. That’s why I try to give it my all. Again, I’m not doing it for me. It’s way bigger than that.”

This year’s US Open launched their ‘Be Open’ campaign which focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. For the first time in history, players are allowed to walk onto the court showing ‘physical support of social justice.’ Highlighted by Naomi Osaka who entered each of her matches wearing a different name of somebody who has been a victim of police brutality based on their ethnicity.

“We wanted to lean into our longstanding values of promoting equity and justice for all,” USTA managing director of marketing, Nicole Kankam, told Associations Now. “We wanted to shine a light on this issue and honour the heroes of this movement.”

Of course, the US Open only takes place over two weeks each year but Auger-Aliassime believes the limelight being shines on these issues will have a positive impact on the future. Saying that he hopes will help trigger a surge in tennis popularity across Africa. A continent with a population of more than a billion but only has three players currently ranked inside the top 200 on the ATP Tour.

It’s just a great message to send out, to be open to diversity, people from different backgrounds.” Auger-Aliassime concludes.
“Hopefully that will keep going. Hopefully we’ll get even more players from Africa even. I know that’s something that people have tried to do, bring more players from the African continent to professional tennis. Hopefully that happens in the future.”

Grand Slam

US Open To Allow Full Capacity Crowds A Year After Being Held Behind Closed Doors

The announcement is the latest step in a gradual return to normality in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The US Open will become the first Grand Slam to take place without any restrictions on the number of spectators attending since the COVID-19 crises turned into a worldwide pandemic.

 

The Associated Press has confirmed that the USTA, who are in charge of the tournament, will allow 100% fan capacity throughout the entire two weeks. Something that hasn’t happened at a major event in tennis since the 2020 Australian Open. The announcement is a dramatic contrast to last year when Flushing Meadows was held behind closed doors amid a surge of cases in the region.

Earlier this week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state had reached their target of issuing 70% of the population at least one COVID-19 vaccination. He has now lifted ‘state-mandated’ restrictions across both commercial and social settings with immediate effect. However, masks will still need to be worn at large venues for the time being. According to the latest COVID-19 figures, New York reported 450 new cases last week which was the lowest-level since the pandemic began.

The development is a major boost for the USTA who suffered big financial losses last season. According to information provided in September, US Open revenue fell by an estimated 50% and the USTA expected their net operating profit to decline by roughly 80%. To put this into perspective the 2018 event generated $300M in revenue.

In 2019 a total of 737,872 fans attended the US Open over a two-week period and a further 115,355 attended during the fan week. Making it the first time the tournament has welcomed more than 850,000 people to the event.

Tickets for the 2021 tournament are set to go on sale next month with all court tickets and ground passes being available. No information on the pricing of those tickets have been released yet.

There has been a steady rise of fans allowed to attend major tournaments in the sport. At the French Open 5000 spectators were allowed to attend daily to begin with before the number increased to 13,000 later in the tournament. Meanwhile, Wimbledon will start at 50% capacity and rise to 100% for the finals.

The US Open takes place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, New York.

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Wimbledon Award Wild Cards To Former Champions Andy Murray, Venus Williams

Here is a list of which players have received passes into this year’s tournament.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray will make his 13th appearance in the main draw at Wimbledon after being awarded a wild card on Wednesday by The All England Club.

 

Murray, who won the men’s title in 2013 and 2016, is currently on the comeback from a groin injury which forced him to miss three months of the Tour this season. The latest setback for the Brit who has also undergone two hip surgeries in recent years in order to prolong his career. Murray is currently participating at the Cinch Championships in Queen’s where he beat Benoit Paire in his first round match on Tuesday.

“Look, I love playing tennis,” an emotional Murray said following his win over Paire.
“Obviously, competing is why you put in all the hard work.
“The last few years, I’ve not go to do that as much as I would have liked so, yeah [it’s] just great that I’m out here and able to compete again.”

Another player to receive one of the initial wild cards is Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz who is currently ranked 78th in the world. The 18-year-old recently reached the third round of the French Open as a qualifier and won a Challenger title on clay. Last month he broke into the ATP top 100 for the first time to become the youngest player to do so since Borna Coric in 2014.

As for the women, Venus Williams has been given entry into the main draw. At the age of 40, Williams is one of the oldest players on the WTA Tour and she has only won three out of 18 matches played since the start of 2020. She is a five-time champion at Wimbledon with her most recent triumph taking place back in 2018. It will be her 23rd main draw appearance at Wimbledon.

Regarding the British players, Jay Clarke, Liam Broady, Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart have all been awarded wild cards. So has youngster Jack Draper, who stunned Jannik Sinner at Queen’s earlier this week.

Full list of wild cards

GENTLEMEN’S SINGLES

  1. Carlos ALCARAZ (ESP)
  2. Liam BROADY (GBR)
  3. Jay CLARKE (GBR)
  4. Jack DRAPER (GBR)
  5. Andy MURRAY (GBR)
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced
  8. To be announced

LADIES’ SINGLES

  1. Katie BOULTER (GBR)
  2. Jodie BURRAGE (GBR)
  3. Harriet DART (GBR)
  4. Francesca JONES (GBR)
  5. Samantha MURRAY SHARAN (GBR)
  6. Venus WILLIAMS (USA)
  7. Not used – Next direct acceptance
  8. Not used – Next direct acceptance

GENTLEMEN’S DOUBLES

  1. Liam BROADY (GBR) and Ryan PENISTON (GBR)
  2. Jay CLARKE (GBR) and Marius COPIL (ROU)
  3. Lloyd GLASSPOOL (GBR) and Harri HELIOVAARA (FIN)
  4. Alastair GRAY (GBR) and Aidan MCHUGH (GBR)
  5. Stuart PARKER (GBR) and James WARD (GBR)
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced

LADIES’ DOUBLES

  1. Naiktha BAINS (GBR) and Samantha MURRAY SHARAN (GBR)
  2. Harriet DART (GBR) and Heather WATSON (GBR)
  3. Sarah Beth GREY (GBR) and Emily WEBLEY-SMITH (GBR)
  4. Tara MOORE (GBR) and Eden SILVA (GBR)
  5. To be announced
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced

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Grand Slam

Wimbledon Finals To Be Played In Front Of Full Capacity Crowd In UK first Since Lockdown

The grass-court Grand Slam has been granted a special exemption from the government which will allow them to welcome thousands to the tournament over a two-week period.

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The Wimbledon Championships received a major boost after being listed as a pilot event by the British Government which allows them to welcome more spectators than the current restrictions.

 

Under the agreement, The All England Club will start the tournament welcoming 50% of it’s ground capacity to the venue which is more than double what was estimated a few weeks ago. The limit will gradually increase as the tournament progresses until finals weekend when both the women’s and men’s title matches will be played in front of 15,000 fans. Making it the first outdoor sporting event in the country that will take place in front of a full capacity crowd since the country went into it’s first lockdown last year.

The announcement coincides with the British government announcing a four-week extension to their plans of ending all restrictions currently in place due to the pandemic. The delay has been triggered due to concerns related to the Indian variant and its transmission rate. However, Wimbledon has been added to the Events Research Program which is a series of pilot events being used to monitor the spead of COVID-19 at sporting and entertainment events.

“We are continuing to work closely with the Government to finalise the details including the requirements for Covid-status certification for spectators,” the All England Club said in a statement.
“We are pleased to have worked closely with the government, public health bodies, and our local authority in Merton, to confirm that, as part of this next phase of pilot events, the Championships 2021 will begin on Monday 28 June with 50% capacity across the grounds, building to full capacity crowds of 15,000 on Centre Court for the finals weekend.
“This will enable us to fulfil our aspiration of staging the best Wimbledon possible within the current circumstances, with the health and safety of all those who make Wimbledon happen – our guests, competitors, members, staff, media, officials, local residents, and partners – remaining our highest priority.”

Last year Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time in the Open Era and was the only major not to take place. However, the grass-court major had the luxury of having pandemic insurance which substantially helped cover their costs. The tournament does not have such a policy this year however.

The Wimbledon Championships will start on June 28th. Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep are the defending champions.

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