Tennis: US Open to hold wheelchair event after player backlash, Paralympic champ Alcott happy with reversal

Australian Paralympic tennis champion Dylan Alcott had earlier described the exclusion as "disgusting discrimination". PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - The US Open organisers said on Wednesday (June 24) that they will include a wheelchair tournament at this year's Grand Slam, following a player backlash over their decision to scrap the event as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The United States Tennis Association's announcement comes five days after the national governing body said it was rethinking their decision and that it could have better communicated with wheelchair athletes.

"The decision was made following multiple virtual meetings with a group of wheelchair athletes and the International Tennis Federation over the last week," the USTA said in a statement.

"The 2020 US Open wheelchair competition will feature men's and women's singles and doubles and quad singles and doubles, with draw sizes similar to past US Opens."

Australian Paralympic tennis champion Dylan Alcott, who led the player backlash and had described the exclusion as "disgusting discrimination", thanked organisers for reversing the decision.

"I was in tears (when the event was excluded)," the twice US Open champion said on Australia's Channel Nine.

"It was just because it was so hard sometimes, growing up with a disability, where able-bodied people decide which restaurant you go in to, which school you go in to, which tennis tournaments you can play.

"It's a huge turning point to show how supportive a community can be and from the bottom of my heart, I can't say thanks enough."

The changes at this year's US Open in New York in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic include no spectators, reducing the number of teams in the men's and women's doubles events by half, and the elimination of the mixed doubles and juniors competitions.

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