Sofia Kenin: ‘The atmosphere is going to be loud’ at the Australian Open; tennis star can’t wait
- Updated: January 30, 2021
Preparation for this year’s Australian Open has been unlike anything these professional tennis players have previously experienced.
Some have been through a “hard quarantine” and unable to leave their hotel rooms at all for 14 days, while others have been allowed out to practice for limited hours during the day.
However, there is one element of the upcoming tournament, set to begin on February 8, that will at least give the players some sense of normalcy.
For the first time at a grand slam since last year’s Australian Open, players will be met by the noise of a significant number of fans in the stands.
Victoria state sports minister Martin Pakula announced Saturday that up to 30,000 supporters per day will be permitted entry when the tournament gets underway, around 50% normal capacity. This will drop to a limit of 25,000 people a day for the last five days when there are less matches.
For certain players, like defending champion Sofia Kenin, it cannot be understated just how much of a boost a noisy and energetic crowd can provide to their game at crucial moments in a match.
“I think everyone obviously wanted the fans to be there,” Kenin told CNN Sport’s Christina Macfarlane from lockdown in her Melbourne hotel room
“Everyone wanted to reconnect with them and somehow get life back to normal, because obviously the whole year without any fans, it was a big toll I’m sure on everybody, especially on me.
“But I think we will all reunite, finally have some entertainment, have some excitement, you know, finally seeing the stands filled, maybe not 100%, but at least filled and some great energy coming from the fans and I think it’s exciting because obviously everyone missed it. No one saw it.
“I think it’s going to be quite loud, to be honest … for sure when the slam starts. Also for the fans, they obviously miss seeing their favorite players play and they obviously want to be there and support their favorite players. So obviously it’s going to be exciting and just finally going to be somewhat normal. I honestly cannot wait.
“I have great memories here. I’ve got my fans here, I’m excited to see them. I feel like it’s going to be a big change for everyone, especially myself. Finally having that atmosphere, finally bringing some positivity to the game. The atmosphere is going to be high, loud, everybody cheering and I think it’s going to be really exciting for us to play finally in front of our fans.”