FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2020, file photo, Romania’s Simona Halep returns the ball to Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina during the final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Halep says she will skip the U.S. Open. She says she wants to put her health first and prefers to stay in Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

Wimbledon champion Halep opts out of playing at U.S. Open

NEW YORK — Wimbledon champion Simona Halep will skip the U.S. Open, saying Monday she is putting her health first and prefers to stay in Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Halep, a former top-ranked player who is currently No. 2, won the title in Prague on Sunday.

“After weighing up all the factors involved and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the (at)usopen,” Halep wrote on Twitter. “I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe.”

Six of the top eight women in the WTA rankings won’t play in New York. No. 1 Ash Barty and defending champion Bianca Andreescu have also withdrawn from the tournament.

Other women who won’t be playing include No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 7 Kiki Bertens and No. 8 Belinda Bencic.

The U.S. Open is scheduled to start at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 31.

“I know the (at)usta and (at)WTA have worked tirelessly to put on a safe event and I wish everyone there a successful tournament,” Halep wrote.

Irina Khromacheva of Russia will replace Halep in the main draw, according to the United States Tennis Association.

Rafael Nadal, the men’s defending champion, has also withdrawn from the tournament, but top-ranked Novak Djokovic has said he will play. Roger Federer is out for the rest of the season after two operations on his right knee.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, is also out, along with Gael Monfils and Nick Kyrgios.

Coronavirus

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FILE - In this July 13, 2019, file photo, Romania’s Simona Halep holds the trophy after defeating Serena Williams in the women’s singles final match on day twelve of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London. Halep says she will skip the U.S. Open. She says she wants to put her health first and prefers to stay in Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

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