Disturbing scenes in Miami have made it clear why one The number of top tennis stars may have been unwilling to travel to the Miami Open for the first Masters 1000 tournament of the year.
Serena Williams joined Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer when withdrawing from the prestigious event on Sunday.
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This year’s Miami Open takes place against a backdrop of declining COVID-19 numbers in the United States as vaccine roll-out accelerates.
However authorities in Miami Beach have imposed a state of emergency and a Saturday curfew to deal with noisy crowds partying during Spring Break.
Thousands of revelers have sparked new fears of a possible COVID-19 resurgence in the tourist hotspot, so it’s no wonder Williams and Federer don’t want to play in Miami.
Video and photos on social media show half-naked women twerking on car roofs, men offering them piles of bills and crowds of tourists standing side by side, dancing and passing bottles from hand to hand, plus fights, gunshots in the air and deadlock with the police.
“Often times when spring breakers come, whether they’re black, white, or whatever, there’s a kind of anarchy,” Retha Boone-Fye, program director of Miami-Dade County’s Black Affairs Advisory Board, told AFP.
Audience capacity is strictly limited: most courts have no fans at all and the main courts can only hold a maximum of about 1000 spectators per session.
The recordings of tennis stars rock in the Miami Open
Williams became the latest high-profile player to withdraw from the Miami Open on Sunday, saying she was withdrawing to focus on her recovery from a recent oral surgery.
“I am disappointed to have to withdraw from the Miami Open due to recent oral surgery,” Williams said in a statement.
“Miami is a special tournament for me as it is my home and I am sorry I will not be able to see the incredible fans this year, but I look forward to coming back soon.”
The withdrawals are another blow to the tournament that was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 39-year-old star is an eight-time winner in Miami and lives in Florida.
“We will certainly miss Serena attending this year’s tournament and I know it was a very difficult decision for her,” said Tournament Director James Blake. Miami Herald
“She has won the Miami Open more than any player in history, has a home here in South Florida and is always a fan favorite.
“We hope she will return to court soon and look forward to welcoming her back here next year.”
Federer retired from Miami on March 2 and was then followed by Nadal and world number 1 Djokovic – who retired on Friday from wanting to spend more time with his family.
“I decided to use this precious time at home to stay with my family,” said Djokovic.
“With all the constraints I have to balance my time on tour and at home. I look forward to coming back next year.”
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