Mason's Western & Southern Open — the oldest tennis tournament to be played in its original city — is moving to New York City this year.
Originally scheduled for Aug. 15-23 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, the Open will now be held Aug. 20-28 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. Spectators will not be permitted.
“The international nature of tennis is one of its greatest assets. However, this international aspect also creates challenges in restarting the tour seasons,” said Western & Southern Open COO Katie Haas in a statement. “Last year, we hosted players representing 47 nations at the Western & Southern Open. With continued restrictions on international travel and quarantine guidelines, hosting multiple tournaments in a controlled environment with shared testing and medical resources at the National Tennis Center provides us the best chance to safely resume play for a combined event that is the size, scope and stature of the Western & Southern Open.
“While we will miss welcoming our fans and the players to Cincinnati, we are privileged to be the first tournament to bring both tours together for a combined event.”
A release says, "Each Western & Southern Open draw will include 56 players in main draw singles, 32 teams in doubles and a qualifying field of 48 players." The deadline and guidelines for player entry will be determined by the WTA and ATP and will be announced soon.
During a press conference about the move, organizers said player participation will be up to them and discussed the myriad COVID testing and social distancing protocols that would be in place, including keeping players in a sort of protected bubble while participating.
The Western & Southern Open will be played on the Grandstand Court as its primary court. The US Open will follow, with play beginning Aug. 31.
According to Western & Southern, the Open creates about $69 million in economic impact for the city — a $69 million loss now that the tournament will be held in New York this year. The tournament will return to Cincinnati in 2021.
Western & Southern Open says, "Patrons holding tickets for the 2020 tournament that were purchased directly from Western & Southern Open or Ticketmaster are eligible for a full refund. In addition, the holders of certain categories of tickets will be given an option to retain their seats for 2021. Full details on our 2020 ticket policy can be found at wsopen.com/2020."
The first ball to hit the court in the Western & Southern Open (originally the Cincinnati Masters) was in 1899, when the matches were held at the current-day site of Xavier University. It has been held out of the city four other times — in 1914 and 1917, it was held in Indianapolis and in 1919 and 1920, the tournament was held in Fort Wayne.