Wheelchair tennis players worldwide expressed their anger and frustration and denounced ‘discrimination’ following the announcement by the organiser of the US Open to not include wheelchair events, this year.
The US Open is set to take place between 31 August and 13 September, with only men’s and women’s singles and doubles events, but no wheelchair, junior or mixed competitions.
Australian Paralympic champion, quad world No. 1 and multiple Grand Slam-winner Dylan Alcott published a series of tweets, criticising the move.
“Just got announced that the US Open will go ahead WITHOUT wheelchair tennis … Players weren’t consulted. I thought I did enough to qualify - 2x champion, number 1 in the world. But unfortunately, I missed the only thing that mattered, being able to walk. Disgusting discrimination,” tweeted Alcott.
He continued, “And please do not tell me I am a ‘greater risk’ because I am disabled. I am disabled yes but that does not make me SICK. I am fitter and healthier than nearly everybody reading this right now. There are no added risks.”
Great Britain’s Quad world No. 2 Andy Lapthorne retweeted his rival and expressed his disappointment.
“This is yet again another example of terrible leadership in the sport of tennis. I don’t get the chance to defend my singles and doubles titles at the @usopen because I’m in a wheelchair complete disgrace if this isn’t changed I don’t know what to say other than discrimination!” said Lapthorne.
Five-time Para athletics Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft of Great Britain also jumped in to support his fellow Paralympians, tweeting, “And tennis seemed to be one of the sports that were getting it right... WOW. This is disgusting @usopen! #discrimination.”
Frenchman Beijing 2008 wheelchair tennis gold medallist Michael Jeremiasz also described it as discrimination against people with disabilities.
“Shame on you @usopen for cancelling #wheelchairtennis this year. Welcoming 16 disabled athletes was too much for you? Is that your vision of the world we should live in? #discrimination #UnitedWeStand and roll...”
Argentinian men’s world No. 2 and multiple-Grand Slam winner Gustavo Fernandez said he is “enormously disappointed that the US Open leaves them outside of the tournament. There was no consultation with the players from the tournament or from the ITF. This is another example of the lack of importance and respect that there is for what we do.”
British Paralympic gold medallist Gordon Reid also highlighted the lack of communication and vision.
“Massively disappointed to find out on twitter this morning that the @usopen plan on cutting wheelchair tennis from this year’s tournament. The wheelchair players have had ZERO communication or consultation from either the ITF or the Grand Slam around this decision.”
Netherlands’ world No. 1 Diede de Groot, too, took to Twitter to express her sadness, while compatriot and Marjolein Buis differed from the rest saying “it is a wise decision”.
Britain’s Jordanne Whiley published a video on Instagram to share her thoughts on the matter and expressed that she did not feel the move as an intentional one to discriminate against the disabled. But she also felt that the organisers have sent out a wrong message by keeping the disabled out.