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Ash Barty will not defend French Open title

Ash Barty

TOPSHOT - Australia’s Ashleigh Barty poses with the trophy Suzanne Lenglen after winning against Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova at the end of the women’s singles final match on day fourteen of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 8, 2019. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Ash Barty will not defend her French Open title in three weeks, citing health risks of traveling during the coronavirus pandemic and an inability to train with her coach, who is in a different Australian state.

Barty, ranked No. 1 in the world, already skipped the ongoing U.S. Open and will now sit out the remaining European tournaments this year.

“Last year’s French Open was the most special tournament of my career so this is not a decision I have made lightly,” was posted on her social media. “I now look forward to a long preseason and the summer in Australia.”

Last year, Barty capped a return from a 21-month leave from the sport by winning her first Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros.

She became the second Australian woman to be ranked No. 1 after Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Earlier Monday, Serena Williams said she will “have to make the best decision for my health” about playing in the French Open. Organizers announced that the tournament will allow fans divided into zones -- a maximum 5,000 for each of the two main courts and 1,500 for a zone surrounding the third-biggest court.

Players will be in a bubble, split between two hotels but not allowed to stay elsewhere as they have been for the U.S. Open.

“Maybe it will be good for me to talk to the organizers just to see how that works with the crowd and how we will be protected,” Williams said. “They have to make the best decision for them, and I have to do what’s best for me. But I think it should be OK.

“I still have some questions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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