ASH BARTY will not defend her French Open title this month due to Covid-19 health and safety concerns.
The Australian decided not to fly to New York for the US Open following the global Covid-19 pandemic.
And the world No1 has made the painful choice to skip the Roland Garros event, which starts on September 27 after being moved from May.
French Open bosses are hoping to have limited fans on site in less than three weeks.
Barty, 24, won the French Open in 2019 after beating Czech star Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-3 in the final.
She said: “It has been a difficult decision to make but unfortunately I will not be competing in Europe 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.
“There are two reasons for my decision. The first is the health risks that still exist with Covid.
“The second is my preparation, which has not been ideal without my coach being able to train with me due to the state border closures in Australia.
“I wish the players and the French Federation all the best for a successful tournament.
“I now look forward to a long preseason and the summer in Australia.
“It has been a challenging year for everyone and although I am disappointed on a tennis front, the health and well-being of my family and my team will always be my priority.
“Thank you to my fans for your continued support, I can’t wait to play for you again.”
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