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Barty won’t defend French Open title, citing COVID-19 risks

Women’s world number one Ashleigh Barty will not compete at the French Open later this month, citing COVID-19 risks and a lack of preparation.

“It has been a difficult decision to make but unfortunately I will not be competing in Europe this year,” Barty said on social media on Tuesday.

“Last year’s French Open was the most special tournament of my career so this is not a decision I have made lightly,” the Australian added.

Reigning champion Barty said there were two reasons for her decision to skip the clay-court tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Paris from September 27 to October 11.

“The first is the health risks that still exist with COVID. The second is my preparation, which has not been ideal without my coach being able to train with me due to the state border closures in Australia.”

Barty wished the players and the French Federation all the best for a successful tournament and said she was now looking to a long preseason and the summer in Australia.

“It has been a challenging year for everyone and although I am disappointed on a tennis front, the health and well-being of my family and my team will always be my priority,” she said. 

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