In an unexpected move, the French Tennis Federation announced Tuesday that the French Open would be postponed to September amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The 15-day clay court event in Paris will now be held from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4, instead of May 24 to June 7, “to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organizing the tournament.” The French Open is normally the second Grand Slam tournament of the year, after the Australian Open, serving as the finale of the clay court portion of the season.

The four month postponement came as a surprise to other Grand Slam tournament organizers as well as the men’s and women’s professional tours, after FTF President Bernard Giudicelli acknowledged that none were consulted about the change, only informed. Giudicelli described the postponement as “a difficult yet brave decision in this unprecedented situation.”

The change has placed the tournament just a week after the end of the US Open, causing concern it will be difficult for top players to play in both events. The French Open will also now collide with the Laver Cup, an exhibition event co-created by Roger Federer scheduled Sept. 25-27. The tournament’s organizers noted they were surprised by the postponement. 

“This announcement came as a surprise to us and our partners — Tennis Australia, the USTA and the ATP. It raises many questions and we are assessing the situation,” they said in a statement. “At this time, we want our fans, sponsors, broadcasters, staff, volunteers, players and the great city of Boston to know that we intend to hold Laver Cup 2020 as currently scheduled.”

The French Open will also clash with ATP tournaments in Metz, Saint Petersburg, Chengdu, Sofia and Zhuhai as well as WTA events in Guangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo and Wuhan. The sudden change and lack of consultation prompted players from around the world to take to social media.

After the announcement from Roland Garros Tuesday, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) issued a statement that it is “assessing all options” in regards to planning the 2020 US Open. The Slam at Flushing Meadows is scheduled to begin Aug. 24 with the tournament’s conclusion Sept. 13, but the USTA said a possible postponement is being considered because of the outbreak. 

In the statement, the USTA emphasized that if there were a change in timing, “that such a decision should not be made unilaterally.” The organization added that it would only move its major championship “in full consultation” with others, including Grand Slam organizers, the WTA and ATP tours and the International Tennis Federation.

The organizers of Wimbledon, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, also issued a message to fans Tuesday that stated it continued to plan for the tournament “at this time.”

For now, the tennis world is forced to abide by the “wait and see” approach, as organizers attempt to reschedule already canceled events and work to answer looming questions about events moving forward.

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