When should tennis come back?

Match Points is a talk show about tennis, hosted by Josh Cohen for Tennis Majors. In this extract, Josh asks journalist Ben Rothenberg when might be the right time for professional tennis to return.

May 14, 2020

For episode 2 of Match Points, our three guests are Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, the ATP world number 225 Noah Rubin (founder of Behind the Racquet) and the American tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg. 

All ATP Tour and WTA Tour events are currently suspended until at least mid-July because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Rogers Cup in Canada, scheduled for August, has already been scrapped for 2020 and though the US Open is still hoping to be able to stage its event on its original dates of August 31 to September 13, with Roland-Garros to follow soon after, there is no guarantee when professional tennis will return.

Host Josh Cohen asks our three guests when tennis should return. Rothenberg believes it will need everyone to be on board with it first.

“I think whoever comes back first should be the first one who can, honestly. They would need first and foremost, support of local government. You need to have whatever state or county or country or city you’re in to be on board with having a big international event again, to have no travel restrictions, so players could get to this event, from round the world, to have it be a fair competition. And you’d need to have the Tours to get back on track. And that’s even talking without fans, a bigger healthcare issue,” he said.

With so many factors to consider, though, tournaments will only be able to happen when everyone, from players to fans and officials, feel that it is safe. Rothenberg thinks that may be a while away yet.

“I think it’s about science. It’s going to come down to when we have better testing and a vaccine, for coronavirus, which we currently don’t have. When there is a vaccine and everyone can get it, then I think will it be a green light pretty quickly in tennis and things can go close to back to normal but that could still be more than a year away, we don’t know.”

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