Rising tennis star Paula Badosa announced on Thursday that she has tested positive for Covid-19 — the first known Australian Open player to contract the virus.
“I have some bad news. Today I received a positive Covid-19 test result. I’m feeling unwell and have some symptoms, but I’ll try to recover as soon as possible listening to the doctors. I’ve been taken to a health hotel to self-isolate and be monitored,” Badosa posted on Twitter, thanking her supporters.
A number of competing players had generated public anger in Australia after they expressed frustration at being kept in quarantine ahead of the first grand slam of the tennis season.
In what appeared to be a reference to the backlash, Badosa added in a separate post afterward, “quarantine & preventive measures are pivotal right now. I talked about rules that changed overnight but I understand the sad situation we are living. Sorry guys.”
Prior to testing positive, Badosa was isolating under a mandatory 14-day quarantine rule. She is ranked No. 67 in the world and has competed in two Australian Opens. She most notably reached the round-of-16 at last year’s French Open.
Players arriving in the Australian state of Victoria have been placed into a 14-day quarantine ahead of their grand slam matches. Most have been allotted five hours each day to go out and train in strict bio-secure bubbles, but 72 players have been unable to leave their hotel rooms and cannot practice, under strict quarantine rules after passengers on their flights tested positive for Covid-19.
At least seven confirmed cases, including non-playing participants, have been linked to the tournament, according to the state government of Victoria, where Melbourne is located.
Melbourne, the second-most populous city in Australia, was under a hard lockdown for 111 days last year. Residents contended with a curfew, closures of businesses, bans on leaving their homes, online schooling and job losses.
Some Melbourne residents have expressed concerns about the tournament’s impact on the community. Many are worried restrictions could be reimposed if the virus — particularly new, potentially more transmissible variants — managed to get into the population because of the tournament.
The Australian Open is scheduled to start on February 8, three weeks after its original start date. The government has allowed for 1,270 foreigners to enter the country to participate in the event, in the face of some of the world’s most stringent arrival policies.