Wimbledon Cancelled For The First Time In The Open Era As Coronavirus Pandemic Continues
Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War Two because of the coronavirus pandemic, making it the latest sporting event to be cancelled.
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 on Wednesday it was impossible for the grass court Grand Slam, scheduled for June 29 to July 12, to take place.
The AELTC said in a statement: "It is with great regret that the AELTC has today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic.
"The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021."
Wimbledon first was held in 1877 and has been contested every year since, with the exception of two periods -- between 1915 and 1918 because of World War I, and from 1940 to 1945 because of World War II.
"It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars," club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a press release.
"But, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year's Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon's resources to help those in our local communities and beyond."
The men's ATP Tour and women's WTA Tour are already suspended until at least June 7 but it looks extremely unlikely that any professional tennis will be possible throughout the northern hemisphere summer as the pandemic worsens in Europe and the US
The French Open, originally due to be held from May 24 to June 7 has been postponed and controversially rescheduled by the French tennis federation for September and October, shortly after the end of the US Open.
Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer reacted to the announcement with a single word, tweeting: "devastated."
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova expressed how much she will miss competing at the tournament.
"Definitely a tough one to take, with the announcement of the cancellation of Wimbledon this year," she said in a tweeted statement.
"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 miss 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! Stay safe and stay inside."