Alize Cornet Calls France's Sports Minister a 'Disaster' After French Open Delay

Amid rising virus cases in France, the French Open has been postponed for the second year in a row. The Grand Slam tennis tournament said Thursday it will push back the start of this season's event by one week, frustrating French tennis player Alize Cornet.

"Our sport minister is a disaster," Cornet said, speaking to Tennis Channel about Roxana Maracineanu. "It's a pretty selfish decision, to be honest. Because the calendar is going to suffer from this postponement. I understand it's not an easy time for the tournament but we have to think about the players and the calendar."

Last year's French Open was pushed to September, allowing crowds of only 1,000 per day. French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton said this year's postponement has the fans in mind.

"This postponement will give us a little more time to improve the health situation and should allow us to optimize our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland Garros," Moretton said. "Whether for the fans, the players or the atmosphere, crowd presence is essential to the tournament, the first international sporting event of the spring."

The federation said the decision was made in order to maximize the possibility that the event will be played "in front of as many spectators as possible."

Alize Cornet of France reacts after scoring a point against Angelique Kerber of Germany during Day Three of the Rogers Cup at IGA Stadium in Montreal, on August 8. The Frenchwoman was penalized for removing her top on court at the U.S. Open. Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

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The French Open was scheduled to start on May 23, but first-round matches will now get underway on May 30.

The delay will have a knock-on effect on the grass-court season, but not Wimbledon.

Tennis authorities lengthened the gap between the French Open final and the start of Wimbledon to three weeks in 2015, giving players extra time to get used to the fastest surface in the game. But because of the delay announced Thursday, the season will be reduced to two weeks plus Wimbledon.

"All four Grand Slam tournaments are united in their view on the importance of a meaningful build-up to every Grand Slam ... However, given the considerable challenges ahead of the FFT in staging Roland Garros, and to avoid further impact on the rest of the calendar, the grass court season will be reduced by one week in 2021," the Grand Slam board said in a statement.

Wimbledon was canceled last year because of the pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament wasn't played.

The move to delay this year's French Open came as hospitals in the country approach saturation from virus cases. To slow down the pace of infections, new nationwide restrictions have been enforced, including a three-week school closure, a month-long domestic travel ban and the closing of non-essential shops.

Ugo Valensi, the executive director of the Grand Slam board, said the organization supports the delay.

This year's Australian Open was delayed by three weeks because of the virus, and quarantine restrictions affected the preparations of several players.