Whilst it is not unknown for weather issues to cause play to be halted at a Grand Slam tournament with rain at Wimbledon, heat in Melbourne and the humidity in New York all causing play to be halted at those events in the past, a new excuse was found on Sunday in the first round of the French Open the cold!
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, the world number 14, and beaten finalist in the US Open earlier this month, was playing Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, currently ranked 73 in the world, when, after three games of the first set, with the scores 2-1, Azarenka sat in her chair and refused to carry on, claiming that it was too cold, and that the players risked injury in the chilly conditions.
Match officials were consulted and, after a delay, she was allowed to return to the locker room, where she donned a jacket and leggings. Suitably attired for the weather, she went on to win the match 6-1, 6-2.
Although Azarenka comes originally from Belarus, where the temperatures are often sub-zero for at least four months of the year, she later explained, she now lives in Florida, which has a much warmer and more humid climate.
Whilst the temperature in Paris on Sunday barely struggled to get above 13 degrees, back in Florida, people were enjoying highs in the early 30s.
This all reflects the fact that the French Open this year is being played four months later than usual, postponed from its traditional starting date of late May because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is late in the year for a tournament to be played outdoors, especially in a northern clime like Paris.
Nor is she the only player to complain about the cold the defending champion and favourite to win the men’s title for a 13th time, Rafael Nadal, has also said that the temperature is much too cool for his liming.
Despite her reservations though Azarenka has backed the decision of the organisers to stage the event. She believes it is particularly important for lower ranked players as it gives them the chance to earn money, in a year when their livelihoods have been threatened during the suspension of the sport during lockdown.