PALERMO, Sicily — Second-ranked Simona Halep withdrew from the Palermo Ladies Open Sunday following a quarantine ordinance issued by Italy’s health ministry.
“Given the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Romania and my anxieties around international air travel at this time, I have made the tough decision to withdraw from Palermo,” Halep tweeted. “I want to thank the tournament director and the Italian ministry of health for all efforts on my behalf.”
The Aug. 3-9 tournament announced Sunday that the Romanian player’s manager, Virginia Ruzici, had informed Palermo officials of the decision.
The move comes after Italy’s health minister on Friday signed an ordinance requiring all those who have in the last 14 days stayed in Romania or Bulgaria to quarantine.
“We were filled with regret when informed of the news,” tournament director Oliviero Palma said. “We had informed Halep’s staff in detail about the fact that professional players shouldn’t have to go into quarantine.
“But nevertheless Halep’s staff informed us when their decision was already taken. We are disheartened and deeply upset,” Palma added.
Palma also said that a regional health minister had sent Halep a notice explaining that the government ordinance does not apply to workers, and therefore to professional athletes.
Halep was going to be the headline player for the clay-court tournament, the first professional tour-level tennis event following a five-month break for the coronavirus pandemic.
Four other top-20 players remain entered: No. 14 Johanna Konta of Britain, No. 15 Petra Martić of Croatia, No. 18 Markéta Vondroušová of the Czech Republic and No. 20 Maria Sakkari of Greece.