MELBOURNE – Four-times Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters believes it is impossible to ignore air quality issues heading into next week's Australian Open and urged organisers to make player health a top priority.
Australia has been battling its worst bushfire season on record, with fires burning for months killing 29 people, and destroying more than 2,500 homes while razing bushland across an area the size of Bulgaria.
Tournament organisers faced criticism this week for going ahead with qualifying rounds, as smoky conditions forced a player to retire after a coughing fit.
“If it's not possible to play in then what's the point?” former world number one Clijsters told the BBC.
“If you can't play and bring good tennis and be fit enough to play two hours, or even the guys 4-5 hours in this environment. You can't avoid or ignore it.