French Open: Nadal, Laver and Gauff missing postponed Roland Garros

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Rafael Nadal and Rod Laver were among the tennis greats pining for Roland Garros on the day the French Open should have begun.

Sunday was a day of reflection for those in tennis, with the coronavirus pandemic having put paid to hopes of staging the clay-court grand slam in its usual slot.

Australian Laver won the French Open twice, in 1962 and on the way to a grand slam sweep in 1969.

The 81-year-old Australian had been hoping to take in more of the action in Paris over the coming fortnight.

"Missing the rich red clay of @rolandgarros - which would have started today," Laver wrote on Twitter.

"Last year was so special, meeting dear friends and celebrating champions new and old. Here’s to the good times, which will return as strongly as a Nadal backhand!"

Nadal, a record 12-time champion on the French clay, posted a picture on Saturday evening of himself in Paris five years ago, attending a gala event for his foundation.

"Already 5 years ago in Paris ..." Nadal wrote on Instagram. "Today we should be there ..."

American teenager Coco Gauff would have been set to play the main draw singles for the first time.

The 16-year-old missed out at the qualifying stage in singles 12 months ago but made her senior grand slam debut in the doubles event.

Gauff wrote on Twitter: "I miss being in Paris."

The Australian Open sent a message, saying they were "thinking of our mates in Paris", while Simona Halep's coach Darren Cahill admitted it hurt to realise the tournament should have been getting under way.

"Like a kick in the guts my calendar alert just reminded me that @rolandgarros was scheduled to begin today," Cahill said. "One of the great events in one of the great cities. Hope to see you in Sep/Oct."

French Open organisers remain hopeful they can get the slam played later in the year, with a September start mooted but currently unconfirmed.

Tournament director Guy Forget has not ruled out allowing fans to attend the tournament either, telling Europe 1: "We will adapt to what the government tells us. You have to be ambitious and optimistic. We hope that Roland Garros will take place, and in good conditions."

Billie Jean King and Chris Evert both paid tribute on Sunday to France's great pre-war tennis star Suzanne Lenglen, who won six Wimbledon titles from 1919 to 1925 plus a pair of French Open crowns in 1925 and 1926.

The second major show court at Roland Garros is named after Lenglen, who died in 1938.

She was born on May 24, 1899.

"Today would have been Day 1 of the 2020 French Open," King, the 1972 French Open champion, tweeted.

"It is also Suzanne Lenglen’s birthday. A 6x #Wimbledon champ, 'The Goddess' attacked the net & played w/aggression & flair.

"She was also an early feminist & advocate for fair pay for athletes. #HistoryMatters #RememberHerName"

Evert, who won seven Roland Garros singles titles, replied with her own tribute to Lenglen, saying: "A legend, an icon, a leader.. We must never forget these pioneers..."