For the second consecutive year, Roland Garros will not commence on its originally scheduled start date.
Originally reported by L'Equipe, this year’s postponement is just one week, compared to 2020’s four-month move from May to September.
Still, the push back of its traditional Sunday main-draw start from May 23 to May 30 is a clear indication that there is significant concern from the French government and national tennis federation about the tournament’s viability during a pandemic—which should be no a surprise given France’s third national lockdown in response to surging coronavirus cases. The four-week lockdown, which began on April 3, is scheduled to last through the month, but could be extended.
"In agreement with the French public authorities and the governing bodies of international tennis, the French Tennis Federation made the responsible decision to postpone the 2021 Roland-Garros tournament by one week, which will now be held from 24 May [Editor's Note: the start of qualifying] to 13 June," read a statement from Roland Garros.
WATCH: Alizé Cornet reacts negatively to hearing the news for first time (question begins at 2:56)
The hope and anticipation is that by having an extra week to prepare, Roland Garros will be allowed to accommodate a greater number of fans, and more significant hospitality than would have been granted on the original dates.
"This 2021 edition of Roland-Garros, aims at maximising the chances—for the players and for the overall tennis community—that the tournament is played in front of the largest possible number of fans, while guaranteeing health and safety," read the statement. "Regarding both objectives, every week is important and can make a difference."
In sharp contrast to the tournament's unilateral move to the fall last year, this adjustment is supported by the Grand Slam Board.
"This decision has been discussed with the Grand Slam Board, and, given the exceptional circumstances, is fully supported by the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open," read a statement from Wimbledon, written on behalf of all four Grand Slam chairmen and presidents.
It was immediately not clear how the move will impact the grass-court season in June, although Wimbledon's dates—its main draw begins on June 28—will not change.
There remain grass-court tournaments scheduled to begin on June 7 in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (ATP and WTA), Nottingham (WTA) and Stuttgart (ATP). Quentin Moynet reported if the trio of events are forced to cancel or postpone, the French Tennis Federation would need to financially compensate them.
But the tournaments could conceivably continue to run alongside the second week of Roland Garros; there are many players who will have been eliminated by that point, and would be eager to begin preparations on grass.
We will continue to update this developing story.