Mixed doubles return at the French Open something to be excited about
It is fair to say that the French Open has not won too many fans over the past few weeks.
Having pushed itself back by five months last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) announced a fortnight ago that the 2021 event would be pushed back a week.
This was in response to a third lockdown in France, with hopes the week delay will boost the chance of fans attending, though it was a decision largely unpopular with players and grass tournaments which may be affected.
However, an announcement made by the tournament on Tuesday that mixed doubles is back on the agenda is certainly one to be welcomed.
Mix doubles will return to Roland Garros after being cancelled last season due to Covid-19 restrictions.
As the US Open and French Open scrambled to organise events in 2020, mixed doubles was an unfortunate casualty in both New York and Paris, considered not important enough amid social distancing measures.
However, the event made a successful return at the Australian Open in February, and it is incredibly exciting to see it will be played at Roland Garros this year – no matter how many or few fans can attend.
Mixed doubles remains one of the most entertaining and popular events with both hardcore and casual tennis fans.
Few can forget how much buzz circulated around SW19 when Andy Murray and Serena Williams were confirmed as a pairing at Wimbledon in 2019, whilst Williams’ partnership with Frances Tiafoe against Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic at the Hopman Cup earlier that year attracted huge attention.
The fact that the Hopman Cup, one of the most popular events with players and fans alike, is no longer on the calendar deprived tennis fans of the only event outside of Slams where mixed doubles is played.
The absence of the event last year was notable, and its return is not only positive for fans but for players as well.
Though doubles players still make a great deal of money, it is nowhere near at the same level as the prize money singles players generate.
The fact that there is an extra event at Grand Slams to earn more money to continue on tour is huge for many of them, whilst simply being able to raise the profile of doubles is important.
At club level, most people play doubles and it is important that such matches are played and given the right level of coverage at Slam tournaments.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 7, 2018
Two-time defending French Open champions Ivan Dodig and Latisha Chan – the only team in the Open Era to defend their title – are just two of the extremely talented mixed doubles players who deserve a chance to compete and to have their achievements celebrated.
The draw at this year’s French Open will not be quite as large as usual, with just 16 teams instead of 32, but it is still incredibly positive that it seems mixed doubles is now here to stay.
The French Open may be over a month and a half away, but this adds a little extra excitement to the build-up of the second Grand Slam of 2021.
Follow Oli Jefford on Twitter @odicksonjefford.
Missing Wimbledon was ‘the right thing to do’, says Rafael Nadal as he prepares for Washington debut
Rafael Nadal “super happy” to be back on Tour after extended break.
‘Part-time player’ Nick Kyrgios reveals how ‘hate, racism, bulls**t’ drove him ‘into a place of dark’
“I did fall into places where people like Naomi Osaka are now speaking about mental illness,” says Kyrgios.
Patient Emma Raducanu vows to continue learning curve after San Jose defeat
The 18-year-old reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Naomi Osaka headlines Montreal field that includes Tokyo champion Belinda Bencic, and Bianca Andreescu
Naomi Osaka set to be the top seed at the Canadian Open.
Rafael Nadal on Novak Djokovic’s Olympics outburst: ‘It is important to avoid this, especially as a role model’
“It’s strange that someone so successful reacts this way,” says Rafael Nadal.
Alexander Zverev euphoric after claiming Olympic gold, saying, ‘this is an incredible feeling’
“There is nothing better than this,” says Alexander Zverev.
Alexander Zverev brushes aside Karen Khachanov to secure historic gold for Germany in men’s tennis at Olympics
Gold for Alexander Zverev at Tokyo Olympics.
‘I am shaking all over my body,’ says Casper Ruud after completing unique hat-trick with Kitzbuhel title
It’s a hat-trick of titles for Casper Ruud.
‘It’s the freaking Olympic Games’ – Belinda Bencic not sure whether to laugh or cry after winning gold
Belinda Bencic in dreamland after winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
Comment: Novak Djokovic under fire after controversial final stand at Tokyo Olympics
Novak Djokovic walked away from the Tokyo Olympics without even a bronze medal to soothe his wounded pride.