Would Serena Williams play the US Open without her daughter? Her coach doubts that

Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou he told CNN that the record-breaking 23-time grand slam winner – and six-time champion in New York – would most likely not participate in his big house if her nearly three-year-old daughter Olympia wasn’t with her. Tennis officials are discussing limiting attacks on players to just one escort so the Grand Slam can take place safely.

“Will it be okay for me to be without my daughter for three weeks? I doubt it,” Mouratoglou said. “He’s never without her … but only she can answer that question.”

The USTA is due to decide the fate of this year’s third Grand Slam, probably on Monday.

Williams ’personal decision comes at a time of intensified debate about how competitions like the US Open can be held.

Last week, divisions emerged between players after the USTA proposed a series of strict restrictions to allow for a grand slam.

The governing body has proposed creating bubbles for players at a hotel outside Manhattan airport – where most players stay – and limiting the number of juries to just one.

Strong opposition, then criticism

The plans were fulfilled with strong opposition from some leading experts, including the reigning Wimbledon champions Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep, Djokovic used the word “extreme” and said choosing only one person was “impossible”.
Rafael Nadalmeanwhile, he told reporters earlier this month that this was not an “ideal” situation. Another member of the men’s big three, Roger Federer, will not be at the US Open if it takes place as he recovers from a second knee surgery in 2020.

Djokovic, the world number one who is also the president of the ATP Players’ Council, then faced criticism from former Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins.

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“This is a huge opportunity for players to start making money again. Here we have the best player in the world who says it will be too difficult to just bring one person in because they won’t be able to bring their partner,” the American wrote on Instagram in 51st place.

Mouratoglou accepts restrictions on movement between the hotel and the stadium for weeks would be a challenge, but believes that from a logistical point of view it could succeed.

“I think it’s only possible to go with a coach,” he said. “I mean, 40 years ago it was like that … so if I’m talking for myself, I’d be training. I’d have to play with Serena, or she can hit with other players and not with her strike partner. Fitness I can, I can get a fitness trainer to send me sessions.

“He can use physiognomies in the institution. So anything is possible.”

With preliminary plans for the Cincinnati Open to be held at Flushing Meadows as a warm-up before the US Open, the main draw is set to begin on August 31st.

Despite the difficulties, the financial impact of the pandemic on tennis players is now becoming so acute that Mouratoglou – who shares a similar view as Collins – says the US Open must take place.

The players have been off tour since early March, with Wimbledon in July officially canceled two months ago.

“There’s no discussion,” he said. “It has to happen for financial reasons. It’s a big federation with a lot of working people who need to pay. I know the USTA has already had to fire a lot of people and I think they need that money.”

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A new format has been launched

It was with this existential background of the sport that Mouratoglou launched the ‘Ultimate Tennis Showdown’ this weekend – a round-robin tournament with the best players of the men’s game, including ATP Final winner Stefanos Tsitsipas.

They compete in a completely new format and rules, and the matches are broadcast live via a streaming platform with a subscription of $ 11 per month.

It is a re-examination of tennis that Mouratoglou has been thinking about for a long time. He has now taken advantage of the Covid-19 restrictions to keep the traditional tennis season on hold.

“If people like it, if people subscribe because they really enjoy watching UTS games, then we are ready to survive in an extremely difficult economic environment,” the Frenchman said.

“My goal is to bring in new fans. And if we bring in new fans, it’s going to be great for the whole industry. I’m sure some of them will discover tennis. And maybe they’ll start liking this sport and like players, they’ll also watch ATP, WTA and grand slam. “

The tournament complains about providing live competition under current rules of social distancing and violating the traditional tennis format. This weekend, one-hour round matches took place, in a matchplay format that sometimes forced players to a confrontational climax. Training to play the field – which is usually forbidden – was allowed during the frequent 30-second exits between points.

The penalty was mitigated for emotional displays such as breaking rackets and swearing, although players seemed to enjoy the format enough that such outbursts were limited.

The most experimental add-ons are “UTS cards” that players can use when they decide to break the rules during a match and give them a variety of tactical advantages, such as not allowing your opponent to have another serve.

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It’s a world away from the rules of conduct of a traditional game, and Mouratoglou acknowledges that this new approach should take time for players to adjust.

“I don’t know how natural it will be for them to express more feelings, more emotions. But it’s okay if not everyone does that, because we have different personalities,” he said. “I don’t want to have clones that are all crazy and breaking rackets. That’s not the point.

“For a good show, you need different personalities. I think after a few weekends they’ll start to get more liberated with this new format and they’re probably expressing more and more feelings.”

Serena wanted to join

For now, the inaugural round of UTS matches is limited to the men’s, but it is certain that a women’s tournament will follow with Williams wanting to participate.

When I had an idea and decided to run it, I picked up the phone and called Serena to talk to her about it and the first thing she told me was, ‘Are women playing?’ And for the first one, I said I can’t do both – if I added women to men, I wouldn’t have a chance to launch, “Mouratoglou said.

“But actually, she gave me some great ideas to fit into the next show, so the women will be coming to UTS very soon. That’s definitely the goal. And Serena will, of course, be a part of it.”

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