The resurgence of the Covid-19 agitates the world of professional tennis. Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini’s Wimbledon withdrawals on Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 June reminded us of this. While the ATP, which manages the men’s professional circuit, and the WTA (the women’s circuit) thought they had turned the page on Covid-19, the renunciations of two outsiders at the London Grand Slam tournament raise questions about the health strategy.
Matteo Berrettini explained this in a long message on Instagram, in which he exposed his vision of things: “I felt the symptoms of the flu and I have been in solitary confinement for the last few days. The symptoms weren’t severe, but I felt it was important to re-test this morning to protect my fellow players and everyone involved in the tournament.”
No compulsory test is imposed for Wimbledon (from June 27 to July 10), so it was the personal conviction of the finalist of the 2021 edition that led him to favor safety. A position that is not shared by everyone on the circuit. Tired of health restrictions, the French player Alizé Cornet pleads for a relaxation of the rules. “The Covid, now, has entered the mores, there are vaccines, etc. If we go back to stuff, I’m not going! “, she said at a press conference after her victory in the first round of Wimbledon, Tuesday, June 28. The French number 1, 37th in the WTA rankings, hopes that the decision-makers of the London tournament “will have the intelligence” not to institute a reinforced health protocol over the next few days. A decision that would be, after the disappearance of the points usually awarded during the Grand Slam on grass, “the pompom”, in his own words.
Suspicion of a cluster at Roland-Garros
However, it was the rest of his speech that created the controversy. “At Roland-Garros, there was an epidemic of Covid, nobody spoke about it”, revealed the 32-year-old player to the media, before returning to her remarks the next day by evoking rather suspicions. His initial message could indeed be confusing: “In the locker room, everyone got it and we didn’t say anything. When it comes out in the press, on great players like that, it will start to set fire to the lake everywhere, and that worries me a little. »
Faced with criticism, Alizé Cornet received the support of her compatriot Tatiana Golovin. “The Czechs all had the Covid [during Roland-Garros] and no one talked about it, added Wednesday, to Agence France-Presse, the former player who became a consultant on the BeIN Sports channel. There were many cases, we did not talk about them. We talk about it because there was the Berrettini case. There have been cases at Roland and no one has spoken about them. »
Charges refuted en bloc by the Czech Tennis Federation. “His statement is so absurd that it is hard to believe that anyone could have said such things and meant that. This is complete nonsense,” swept away federation spokesman Karel Tekjal. During the Paris tournament, only the Czech Barbora Krejcikova, crowned in 2021, had publicly revealed her contamination and gave up playing her doubles match after her elimination in the singles in the first round against the French Diane Parry, on May 23.
A decision that Matteo Berrettini and Marin Cilic were also forced to take. Further proof that the Covid-19 has not finished playing spoilsport on the tennis courts.