Sports

Wimbledon 2020 cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

Reuters LONDON | Updated on April 02, 2020 Published on April 01, 2020

The Wimbledon logo   -  Twitter via @Wimbledon

Instead, the 134th Championships will be staged from June 28 to July 11, 2021

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 of the All England Club and the committee of management of the championships 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.

“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 U.S, 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,” a joint statement from the three governing bodies said.

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 has been postponed and controversially rescheduled by the French tennis federation for Sept. 20-Oct. 4, shortly after the end of the U.S. Open.

NO VACCINE = NO TENNIS

Former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo doubts whether either tournament will be played though.

“I think we're going to have to draw a line under the 2020 tennis season,” Mauresmo said on Twitter this week.

“International circuit = players of all nationalities plus management, spectators and people from the 4 corners of the world who bring these events to life. No vaccine = no tennis.”

Unlike the French Open which is played on clay, Wimbledon's scope for re-arranging the start date was minimal.

While Centre Court and Court One boast a roof, playing elite-level tennis outside on grass would have been extremely challenging in late summer or autumn with a lack of light and problems caused by dew forming on the surface late in the day.

Shortening the format of the tournament, or playing behind closed doors, would also have proved extremely unpopular with the players.

“While in some ways this has been a challenging decision, we strongly believe it is not only in the best interests of society at this time, but also provides certainty to our colleagues in international tennis given the impact on the grasscourt events in the UK and in Europe and the broader tennis calendar,” AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said.

Tickets holders will be offered the chance to purchase tickets for the same day and court for 2021 championships as well as being issued with a refund for this year's event, organisers added.

Wimbledon has been held every year since 1946 after a six-year hiatus because the country was at war.

Reactions to The Wimbledon championships cancellation

The Wimbledon championships was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic struck another major sports event off the calendar to wipe out the entire tennis grasscourt season.

Here are some of the reactions to the Grand Slam -- originally scheduled for June 29-July 12 -- being cancelled for the first time in 75 years.

Roger Federer, record eight-times Wimbledon men's singles champion:

File photo of Switzerland's Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2019   -  REUTERS

 

“Devastated,” the Swiss wrote on Twitter, adding that “health and family” came first.

Serena Williams, 23-times Grand Slam champion:

“I'm shooked,” the American wrote on Twitter.

Boris Becker, former champion and Eurosport tennis expert:

“The problem is the surface, you only have the summer months to prepare and ultimately play on the best grass courts which is usually the case at Queen's and Wimbledon.

“But in order to do so the grass courts need much more preparation time than any other surface. You can play the French Open or the U.S. Open later... even in October maybe. But on grass you can only play in the summer months.”

Billie Jean King, 12-times Grand Slam singles champion:

“I fully understand and support the decision of the committee and it is vital we keep our focus on those most impacted by this pandemic,” she wrote on Twitter.

“I've been fortunate to go to Wimbledon every year since 1961 and I am certainly going to miss this year.”

Simona Halep, 2019 Wimbledon women's singles champion:

File photo of Romania's Simona Halep reacts during the final against Serena Williams of the US in 2019   -  REUTERS

 

“So sad to hear Wimbledon won't take place this year. Last year's final will forever be one of the happiest days of my life!

“But we're going through something bigger than tennis and Wimbledon will be back! And it means I have even longer to look forward to defending my title.”

Petra Kvitova, twice Wimbledon women's singles champion:

“Definitely a tough one to take... Not only is it a special tournament to me, but it's a tournament that has been part of history for so long that it will leave a big hole in the calendar.

“I will missing playing on the beautiful grass and wearing my whites, but of course we know it will be back better than ever next year. And maybe we will all appreciate it even more!”

Angelique Kerber, 2018 Wimbledon women's singles champion:

File photo of Germany's Angelique Kerber holds the trophy after winning the women's singles final match against Serena Williams of the United States, at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, on July 14, 2018.   -  Reuters

 

“It goes without saying that I'm heavy hearted that the cancellation of the grass court season also means that I won't be able to play in front of my home crowd in Bad Homburg and Berlin.

“It's disappointing for me but also for all those who put their heart and soul into these events and for the fans who love our sport and support us players all year round.”

Marion Bartoli, former women's champion:

“It does hurt deeply to hear that Wimbledon is cancelled this year,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Of course, it has a very special place in my heart but not only in mine, in the heart of millions of tennis fans around the world, in all the players whom over the decades stepped on those immaculate courts.

“I know that Wimbledon will be back next year even stronger and we will appreciate it even more!”

Kevin Anderson, 2018 finalist:

“I've always had so many great memories at Wimbledon. The grass season will definitely be missed but the most important thing right now for us to focus on is that we're all staying healthy and safe at home.”

Coco Gauff, the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the professional era:

Cori Gauff of the US. in action during her first round match against Venus Williams of the US.   -  REUTERS

 

“I'm going to miss playing in Wimbledon this year. Stay safe everyone, love you guys,” she wrote on Twitter.

Published on April 01, 2020

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