Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War Two
LONDON (Reuters) – The Wimbledon championships were cancelled for the first time since World War Two on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic struck another blue-riband sports event off the calendar and wiped out the entire tennis grasscourt season.
While the decision had looked inevitable for some time, since the virtual shutdown of world sport and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, Wimbledon had been one of the few events not to have been officially cancelled or postponed.
But after emergency talks between the various stakeholders over the last few days, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced that it was impossible for the grasscourt Grand Slam, scheduled for June 29-July 12, to take place.
“It is with great regret that the main board … have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” the AELTC said in a statement here
“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from June 28 to July 11, 2021.”
Following the cancellation of the grasscourt major, and with the pandemic worsening in Europe and the US, the men’s ATP Tour, women’s WTA Tour and the International Tennis Federation extended the suspension of professional tennis for another five weeks to July 13.
“At this time, tournaments taking place from July 13, 2020 onwards are still planning to proceed as per the published schedule,” said a joint statement from the governing bodies.
Britain’s death toll from the virus reached 2,352 on Wednesday, according to NHS figures.
The French Open, originally due to be held from May 24-June 7 was postponed and controversially rescheduled by the French tennis federation for Sept. 20-Oct. 4, shortly after the end of the U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open organisers said they were continuing with their plans to host the hardcourt Grand Slam in New York as scheduled from Aug 31-Sep 14.
NO VACCINE = NO TENNIS
Players across the tennis fraternity reacted with shock and sadness at the cancellation of Wimbledon.
Roger Federer, whose record haul of 20 Grand Slam titles includes eight Wimbledon trophies, said he was “devastated”.
“There is no gif for these things that I am feeling,” he added.
In a statement from the organisers of the Halle Open, which was also cancelled, Federer said: “We are going through difficult times but we will emerge stronger. I already look forward to returning to Halle next year. Stay healthy.”
Former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo did not think either the U.S. Open or the French Open would go ahead this year.