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.”

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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal To Quarantine In Adelaide Ahead Of Australian Open

The world’s best players are set to face off against each other in a new exhibition tournament at the end of this month.

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The highest ranked players in the world of tennis will travel to Adelaide instead of Melbourne to quarantine under a new deal announced by Tennis Australia.

 

Under the terms agreed with the Southern Australian Government, the three highest ranked players on both the ATP and WTA Tour’s will travel to the region. The decision has been made to help ease the pressure on Melbourne who are close to their capacity of holding 1000 players and their teams. Adelaide is set to quarantine around 50 people ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2021.

Under part of the deal, an exhibition tournament will take place in the region as part of an incentive for them agreeing to help. Should all of the top three players take part, the event would feature Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem on the men’s side. Meanwhile, the women’s field will feature home favourite Ash Barty, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka. The event will be played on January 29 and 30.

“We’re right up to the edge of people that can quarantine in Melbourne so we needed some relief,” Australian Open chief Craig Tiley told the Tennis Channel.
“We approached the South Australian government about the possibility of them quarantining at least 50 people, but they wouldn’t have any interest in doing it because there’s no benefit for them to do it to put their community at risk if the players then go straight to Melbourne.
“But it would be a benefit if they played an exhibition tournament just before they came to Melbourne, so the premier (Steven Marshall) has agreed to host 50 people in a quarantine bubble and then have those players play an exhibition event.”

The conditions of the Quarantine will be the same as it will be in Melbourne with players only allowed to leave their room in order to train during the 14-day period. Should anybody break protocol, they could face up to a AUS$20,000 fine, possible risk of criminal sanction and even deportation from the country.

“We think this is a great opportunity to launch before we go into the season. This a state and city who have just invested $44 million in building a new stadium. So this is a nice way to say thank you,” Tiley added.

Melbourne will still remain the primary location for tennis with the region hosting a series of events both before and after the Australian Open. On the men’s tour, the plan is to hold two 250 tournaments and the ATP Cup during the first week of February. Meanwhile, the WTA is set to stage two 500 events during the week starting January 31st and then a 250 tournament immediately after the Australian Open.

Speaking about Melbourne Park, Tiley is hopeful that between 50% and 75% of its usual capacity will be used by fans. To put that into perspective, last year the US Open was played behind closed doors and the French Open significantly reduced their capacity due to the pandemic.

The Australian Open will start on February 8th.

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Australian Open Axes Hotel Quarantine Contract Following Legal Threat

The decision comes after residents voiced concern that international tennis players pose a potential health risk to them.

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Tennis Australia has been forced to relocate one of their player accommodation venues after residents threatened to take the government to court.

 

Earlier this week a group of penthouse owners at the Westin Hotel in Melbourne confirmed that they were contemplating legal action, arguing that international players posed a health risk to them. The group also claims that they have been given insufficient information about the arrangements which has been disputed by the local government.

Despite assurances by officials that the residents would not be interacting with the players due to part of the hotel being sealed off, it has been decided to no longer use the Westin. It is unclear as to how many players would have been staying at the venue.

“The Australian Open team has been working closely with COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) on suitable quarantine hotel options in Melbourne. Several hotels in Melbourne have already been secured, including a replacement for the Westin, to safely accommodate the international playing group and their team members as well as allow for them to properly prepare for the first Grand Slam of the year. The health and safety of everyone is our top priority,” a statement from Tennis Australia reads.

Lisa Neville, who is the country’s minister of police, said the decision to change venue has been taken in order to prevent the risk of the Melbourne major being delayed once again. Ms Neville said she was first made aware of the concerns on Sunday.

We became aware on Sunday that there were some concerns that had been expressed by the residents in the apartments,” she said.
“We were also concerned this may delay the standing up of the Australian Open so we’ve gone through a process of securing a new site.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players arriving in the country must quarantine for 14 days before they are allowed to play professional events. Although they are allowed to train during this period. As a result, the Australian Open will be taking place during February for the first time in more than 100 years.

According to abc.net.au, the government will publish a list of hotels that will be used for quarantine next week. Players are set to start arriving in Australia from January 14th.

The Australian Open will start on February 8th.

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Australian Open Facing Legal Action Over Quarantine Plans

Less than two weeks before players are set to enter a mandatory quarantine, residents at one hotel are considering taking Tennis Australia to court.

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The Australian Open is facing a new crisis with a group of apartment owners launching a legal case to not allow players to stay at their premises.

 

Residents at the Westin Melbourne says they were given insufficient information about plans for players to stay at the Westin ahead of the Grand Slam and argue they pose a health risk to them. The venue has been chosen as one of the premises when players from around the globe will stay during a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in the country. During the quarantine, they are not allowed to play professional tournaments but will be permitted to train. Players are set to start arriving in Melbourne from January 14th.

“At 84, I’m in the vulnerable group and it’s shocking the way they tried to ram this through without any attempt to consult with us,” owner Digby Lewis told Fairfax.
“I’m more than happy to toss in $10,000 or $20,000 to help the legal fight, it’s bloody shocking.”

According to The Age newspaper, the legal action is being considered by the 36 owners of penthouse apartments in the hotel, including many who live there on a permanent basis. One of their plans of action could include trying to obtain a last-minute injection which would prevent players from arriving if the court agrees to issue one.

The Victorian government formally approved the quarantine plan on December 18th and apartment owners were then notified on December 23rd. Although they insist that they never agreed to the terms.

“It’s incredibly arrogant to ambush us this way as if it’s a done deal. There are substantive public health and legal issues that have not even been examined,” apartment owner Mark Nicholson told The Age and the SMH.

In a statement issued to Reuters news agency, a representative from The Westin hotel has insisted that residents will not be in contact with players throughout their stay. They will be using separate entrances and lifts into the venue in accordance with their ‘COVID safe’ guidelines.

Their floor will remain exclusive while there will be no reticulation of ventilation between the floors,” the statement outlines.

Jacinta Allan, who is the acting Premier of Melbourne state, has also tried to ease any concerns the residents have. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Allan said a ‘rigorous assessment’ was conducted before the hotel was approved to host international athletes.

“The Westin, like every venue, went through a rigorous assessment, very strict infection prevention measures have been put in place in all of the venues,” she said.
“The very clear advice is that arrangements have been put in place so there is no contact between the existing residents and the people staying associated with the Australian Open.
“There are separate entrances, there are separate floors, there are floor monitors on every floor, there is 24/7 Victoria Police presence associated with every venue.”

The development is the latest setback for Tennis Australia and their plans for the Grand Slam. Due to the pandemic the Australian Open has had to be delayed until February for the first time in more than 100 years. Officials originally hoped for players to arrive in the country from December before the government ruled against it.

The Australian Open will get underway on February 8th.

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