'I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everyone is safe'
Fears that strict health protocols due to the COVID-19 outbreak could deter the game's biggest names from competing at this year's U.S. Open were somewhat allayed on Wednesday as Serena Williams confirmed she will play the New York event.
Williams, in a video message played during a United States Tennis Association news conference to announce that the Aug. 31-Sept. 13 tournament will proceed without fans, said she misses the excitement of competition.
"Ultimately, I really cannot wait to return to New York and play the US Open 2020," the seven-times champion said. "I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everyone is safe."
A number of top players, including world number ones Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Australian Ash Barty along with reigning US Open men's champion Rafael Nadal are among those who have expressed concerns about attending the US Open.
As part of the safety plan outlined by the USTA, testing will be conducted before travelling to the United States and 1-2 times per week at the event along with daily temperature checks.
During the US Open, which this year will not include a mixed doubles tournament, players and guests must wear masks when onsite unless practicing or competing and anyone who tests positive will be isolated.
According to the tournament organisers, players are allowed to rent homes in the New York area if they do not want to stay in one of the affiliated hotels but cannot stay in Manhattan.
Among the changes amid the virus, there will be linespersons for matches inside both Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium but none on the other courts, where a chair umpire will work with the electronic line-calling system HawkEye Live.