Serena Williams is headed to the 2020 U.S. Open.
On Wednesday, the tennis pro announced that she will be playing in this year's tournament, which will take place from August 31 to September 13. This news comes one day after the United States Tennis Association announced that the U.S. Open will carry on with unprecedented restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Under the new regulations, the event will be held without fans or spectators to ensure the safety of players.
Addressing fans in a video message, Williams expressed her excitement over her participation.
"So this announcement has been on my mind all day, but ultimately I really cannot wait to return in New York and play the U.S. Open 2020," she said. "I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe. It's going to be exciting. It's been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis."
Speaking to the USTA's new guidelines, the six-time U.S. Open champion also shared that she's upset she'll have to play without her fans cheering her on.
"I'll certainly miss the fans, don't get me wrong, just being out there and that New York crowd and hear everyone cheer," Williams continued. "I'll really miss that and getting me through some of those tough matches. But, this is crazy. I'm excited."
In the past, Williams has been open about the "setbacks" she's experienced being a woman in tennis. Back in 2018, she penned a powerful essay for Harper's BAZAAR in which she detailed the confrontation she had with chair umpire Carlos Ramos after he accused her of cheating in her finals match against Naomi Osaka. During the match, Williams smashed her racket on the court and called Ramos a "thief" for penalizing her.
"This incident—though excruciating for us to endure—exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day," she wrote. "We are not allowed to have emotions, we are not allowed to be passionate. We are told to sit down and be quiet, which frankly, is just not something I'm OK with."
"It's shameful that our society penalized women just for being themselves," she continued. "I tried to compare it to other setbacks I'd had in my life and career, and for some reason I couldn't shake the feeling that this was about so much more than just me."
Pointing out the media's portrayal of the incident, she added, "I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other. I would love the chance to live that moment over again."
Crediting her 2-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia with giving her the strength to stand up for herself, Williams concluded, "Ultimately, my daughter is the reason I use my voice, the reason I picked up a racket again. Love breathes life and newfound perspective into people. It's not about quitting when someone presents a challenge; it's about getting up when you are down, dusting yourself off and asking, 'Is that the best you got?' Because I have God with me, and I can take whatever comes my way."