Among the notable names impacted included two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner. Less than two days earlier, Stephens announced on her social media accounts that both her grandmother and aunt passed away from complications of COVID-19.
Also on board the charter, which departed Los Angeles on Wednesday and arrived Friday at 5 a.m., were former world No. 4 Kei Nishikori and American Tennys Sandgren. Nishikori missed last year’s US Open after contracting coronavirus, while Sandgren was permitted to fly with a positive PCR test after Victorian authorities determined he was shedding viral particles from a positive case dating back to November 22.
Sandgren's countryman Nicholas Monroe, a doubles player ranked No. 74, revealed he was among those affected on his Instagram story. “Can't leave the room now”, Monroe's caption read. Doubles world No. 48 Santiago Gonzalez confirmed the same, later sharing his test came back negative. Likewise, Artem Sitak, ranked 30 spots below Gonzalez, updated his followers in a series of IG videos.
“We're all deemed close contact. I asked for a bike, so hopefully I'll get one and stay in shape,” Sitak said. “We'll probably be out on the 29th of January and head straight into the ATP 250 a few days after.
“Obviously not great, but that's the risk we were all taking. They kind of warned us this was going to be at the discretion of the Australian government, Australian health authorities if something like this happened. It's just unlucky that two of them contracted the virus.”