Australian Open: 50% crowds to be allowed, Federer & Serena confirms participation

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: Serena Williams of the United States and Roger Federer of Switzerland take a selfie on court following their mixed doubles match during day four of the 2019 Hopman Cup at RAC Arena on January 01, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Crowds of up to 50 per cent of those admitted in normal years will be able to attend the Australian Open in 2021, Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley has confirmed. More than 800,000 attended the 2020 Australian Open. The main court, the Rod Laver Arena, has a capacity of just under 15,000.

50% of the capacity of the stadium will be allowed to fill according to the organizers. Retractable roofs at Melbourne Park will allow arenas to be classified as outdoor settings, which will mean more fans will be able to attend. “It’s a very outdoor site, the size of the site and the way we can physically distance people, we’ll enjoy having quite a few crowds…We can have crowds from anywhere between 25 and 50 per cent of what we’ve had before,” said the Australian Open chief.

“We’re going to have six weeks of tennis, in fact more tennis and events than ever before,” said Tiley.

“(Players) will have two weeks of quarantine that they will do in cities around Australia and for those two weeks we’re creating a bubble from the hotel to the courts in a training environment, not too dissimilar to what’s happened with the AFL and NRL.

“By then, we expect the border to be completely open and we can move from city to city and then come down to Melbourne for the Australian Open for the last two weeks of January,” he said.

Tennis Australia is planning to establish bio-security ‘bubbles’ in cities across Australia from early December and are looking at giving players who arrive early Down Under more tournament play opportunities to prepare for the January 18-31 Grand Slam.

Australian Open 2021 : Roger Federer, Serena Williams to play
The tournament has also been boosted by the news that Roger Federer and Serena Williams will play.

Federer reached the semifinal of this year’s Australian Open but the 20-times Grand Slam winner has missed the rest of the season after undergoing a second procedure on his right knee.

“Roger this morning just confirmed publicly he’ll be here. Serena Williams will be here obviously trying to get Margaret Court’s record, so we’re excited about the players that will be here and what we’ll put on,” Tiley told Channel Nine.

Williams, 39, pulled out of her second round match at the French Open due to an Achilles injury and is still one short of Court’s record 24 Grand Slam titles.

Many top players missed the US Open Grand Slam due to concerns over the pandemic while Australia’s women’s world number one Ashleigh Barty also opted to not travel to Paris to defend her French Open title.