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Serena Williams was included on the entry list for the US Open on Wednesday along with fellow former champion Novak Djokovic, who will not be able to compete due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Williams, who returned to competition in June after a year-long absence, was added to the entry list for the August 29-September 11 Grand Slam in New York, having been named in the draw for tune-up events in Toronto and Cincinnati.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell in the first round at Wimbledon and last appeared in the US Open in 2020 when the six-time winner reached the semifinals.
Eligible players are automatically entered into the main draw but that does little to help Djokovic, who retained his Wimbledon crown in June and is one behind Rafa Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic will not be able to participate in the year’s final Grand Slam due to rules under which travellers seeking to enter the US have to be fully vaccinated and provide proof before boarding flights.
“The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens,” the US Tennis Association (USTA) said in a news release.
Almost 12,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the association to work with the country’s government to allow Djokovic to compete in the US Open despite his refusal to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
Djokovic won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2021 but was unable to defend his Melbourne Park crown this year after being deported from Australia over his vaccination status in January.
He later said he was prepared to miss Grand Slam tournaments rather than take the Covid-19 vaccine.
• Former world No 1 Naomi Osaka’s coach Wim Fissette said on Wednesday the pair has ended their partnership after working together since 2019.
Japan’s Osaka won the US Open in 2020 and the Australian Open the next year under Belgian coach Fissette’s guidance.
“It has been a privilege to coach Naomi since 2019 and see her grow into the champion she has become,” Fissette said. “She has inspired a whole new generation to fall in love with the game and to speak up for what they believe in and it’s been incredible to play a part in that journey.”
Fissette previously worked with top players such as Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters and Simona Halep.
• Venus Williams will make her singles comeback after nearly a year at August’s WTA 1000 tournament in Toronto, joining her sister Serena at the event.
Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam champion and former world No 1, was awarded a wild card into the main draw for the August 6-15 National Bank Open on Wednesday.
The 42-year-old last played a singles match at the Chicago Women’s Open in August 2021, where she lost in the first round to Hsieh Su-Wei. Her most recent return to the courts was when she teamed up with Britain’s Jamie Murray and reached the second round in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon.
Serena elected to use her protected ranking to enter the main draw in Toronto, where world No 1 Iga Swiatek, four-time Osaka and US Open champion Emma Raducanu are also on the entry list.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.