Baltimore Sun

Serena, Djokovic on US Open lists but may not play

- By Howard Fendrich

Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic were on the official U.S. Open entry lists released Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessaril­y play in the tournament — and in Djokovic’s case, he can’t, as of now, because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19.

The singles entry lists are a formality, and they include all players who are eligible based purely on this week’s WTA and ATP rankings. Williams is on there by virtue of a special ranking granted to her because she missed so much time due to injury; her first match in a year came last month at Wimbledon, where she lost in the first round to Harmony Tan.

Asked after that defeat whether she would play again, the 40-year-old Williams said she didn’t know. When she was asked specifical­ly about returning to the U.S. Open, where she has won six of her 23 Grand Slam singles trophies, Williams replied: “There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home.”

She missed the hard-court tournament in New York last year after hurting her leg at Wimbledon. But Williams made it to at least the semifinals in each of her 11 most recent appearance­s at the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, a 35-year-old from Serbia, missed the Australian Open in January after being deported from that country over his vaccine status and has said since that he will not get COVID-19 shots just to be able to participat­e in tournament­s.

The United States doesn’t allow unvaccinat­ed noncitizen­s to enter the country, which is why Djokovic needed to sit out big events in Indian Wells, California, and Miami earlier this season, and can’t compete at the Cincinnati Masters next month or the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29.

In its news release announcing the entry lists, the U.S. Tennis Associatio­n said: “The U.S. Open does not have a vaccinatio­n mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinat­ed non-U.S. citizens.”

Djokovic played in the French Open, where he lost in the quarterfin­als to eventual champion Rafael Nadal, and at Wimbledon, which he won for his 21st Slam title.

Only Nadal, with 22 major titles, has more among men in the history of tennis.

After his triumph at Wimbledon, Djokovic said that he “would love” to enter the U.S. Open, but added: “I’m not planning to get vaccinated.”

Djokovic has won three championsh­ips at Flushing Meadows and has been the runner-up a half-dozen times, including a year ago. His loss in the 2021 final to Daniil Medvedev prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win a calendar-year Slam.

Venus gets Toronto wild card: Seven-time Slam champion Venus Williams was given a wild-card entry into the main draw of the National Bank Open early next month.

She will compete in Toronto for the first time since 2019 and return to WTA Tour singles play for the first time since August 2021.

The 42-year-old former world No. 1 and five-time Wimbledon champion last played when she partnered with Jamie Murray of Britain in Wimbledon’s mixed doubles draw earlier this month. Williams is a 41-time WTA singles champion and Olympic gold medalist.

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