All four Grand Slam tennis tournaments are serving up a return to normal as fans return to the stands. Here’s the latest tennis capacity rules.
The Australian Open this February became the first tennis event to welcome a sizable crowd, but it wasn’t without hitches. Fans returned at half-capacity for the start of the tournament.
Per Tennis.com, Victoria Minister for Sport Martin Pakula hailed the tournament as “the most significant international event with crowds that the world has seen for many, many months.”
The 2020 French Open was postponed from late spring to September and held with 1,000 fans per day. In 2021, though, the event was held on time – late May to early June – and in front of 5,400 fans, one-third of center court’s capacity.
The return of fans led to a tender moment between one young fan and men’s champion Novak Djokovic.
According to the BBC, Djokovic said the fan was “coaching him” and he found it “very cute, very nice.”
“That was kind of my gratitude for him sticking with me and supporting me,” Djokovic said of his gift.
Fans were not able to stick with Djokovic through the end of his earlier match with Matteo Berrettini, however. The French government enforced its 11:00 pm Covid curfew, forcing fans to go home. ESPN says the fans chanted, “We paid!” in anger when the order came down.
However, with Djokovic and fellow perennial contender Rafa Nadal locked in a competitive match two days later, the government lifted the curfew as the deadline approached.
This reaction to a pivotal set shows the space between fans and the energy the reduced-capacity crowd brought.
Wimbledon will open with 50% capacity to start before opening the men’s and women’s finals to full capacity. Fans’ presence will mark a return to some semblance of normal after Covid forced the cancelation of the 2020 event.
Fan excitement should be at an all-time high, as the 2019 event saw record-high attendance.
The BBC says this event is part of a pilot program on mass-spectator events ahead of the lifting of Covid restrictions.
Per ESPN, fans must wear masks when moving around the venue and must present either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test for entry.
The U.S. Open runs from late August to early September in New York. That timing is perfect, as mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to reopen the city at “full strength” by July 1.
Tennis announcer and retired player Patrick McEnroe told Forbes’ Adam Zagoria that the city’s reopening was “fantastic news” because “tennis relies on the daily gate and attendance more so than most other big sports.”
After the U.S. Open, there are four months without major tournaments before the Grand Slam resumes with the Australian Open. That event will take place January 17-30, 2022.
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