Barty will play French Open 'whenever'

Australia's defending champion and world No.1 Ashleigh Barty says she'll play the French Open 'whenever' it is held.

ASHLEIGH BARTY of Australia plays a forehand during her ladies singles quarter-final match of the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France.
ASHLEIGH BARTY of Australia plays a forehand during her ladies singles quarter-final match of the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. Picture: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Proud champion Ashleigh Barty will jump at the chance to defend her French Open crown "whenever" it is scheduled.

Amid unprecedented uncertainty and talk of players boycotting the claycourt grand slam following its controversial shift from May to September, Barty remains typically upbeat and pragmatic.

"I hope I get the chance to defend my title in September - any opportunity to compete is something I'll grab with both hands," Australia's world No.1 told AAP.

"There are more important things going on in the world right now, though, and I will do whatever helps keeps us all safe and healthy."

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to wreak havoc on the global sporting calendar, the WTA Tour on Wednesday extended its suspension of all events from May 2 until June 7 - the original French Open men's final day.

In a joint statement released by the WTA and ATP, the women's and men's governing bodies took a thinly-veiled swipe at Roland Garros officials for moving the French Open to the middle of the hardcourt season with little consultation with tennis's other key stakeholders.

"Now is not a time to act unilaterally, but in unison," the statement said.

"All decisions related to the impact of the coronavirus require appropriate consultation and review with the stakeholders in the game, a view that is shared by ATP, WTA, ITF, AELTC, Tennis Australia, and USTA.

"The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to professional tennis demand greater collaboration than ever from everyone in the tennis community, in order for the sport to move forward collectively in the best interest of players, tournaments and fans.

"We are assessing all options related to preserving and maximising the tennis calendar based on various return dates for the Tours, which remains an unknown at this time.

"We are committed to working through these matters with our player and tournament members, and the other governing bodies, in the weeks and months ahead."

Barty also revealed, unlike men's reigning champion Rafael Nadal, she didn't receive a courtesy call from French Open tournament director Guy Forget regarding the postponement of the season's second major.

"No I haven't spoken to Guy Forget but I'm happy to play the tournament whenever it is scheduled," she said.

The ice-cool sporting star is keeping fit and healthy - as well as her eye in - during the lay-off from competitive tennis by also playing plenty of golf.

All WTA and ATP rankings will be frozen throughout the suspension of tournaments.


AAP