French Open starts in shadow of COVID-19
Venus Williams
AFP
French Open starts in shadow of COVID-19
(Agence France-Presse) - September 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The French Open gets underway in chilly, damp Paris still in the grip of the coronavirus which organizers had hoped they would escape by unilaterally pushing back the clay court Grand Slam event by four months.

Opening day will see 2018 champion Simona Halep start her bid for a third major while 40-year-old Venus Williams kicks off her 23rd French Open.

Andy Murray takes on fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the day’s marquee tie in a rematch of their epic 2017 semifinal duel.

However, it will be an eerily unfamiliar tournament, even for defending champion Rafael Nadal, chasing a 13th Paris title, and 2016 winner and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, as well as Serena Williams, pursuing an elusive 24th major.

A resurgence of COVID-19 cases means that only 1,000 spectators will be allowed into the grounds each day.

In 2019, more than 500,000 people watched the two-week tournament on site.                                               

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