The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Wednesday decided to cancel the historic Wimbledon Championships, in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” it said in a post on Twitter.
The French Open has already decided to postpone this year’s competition from May to September in the wake of coronavirus which has claimed over 33,000 lives across the world so far.
Just like the Olympic Games, this will be the first time that the Championships, the third tennis grand slam of the year, will not be held during peace time. The tournament wasn’t held from 1915 to 1918 due to the First World War and then again from 1940 to 1945 due to the Second World War.
Roger Federer holds the record for the most Men’s singles titles with 8 wins. He broke the record of Pete Sampras, who has seven wins to his name. Englishman William Renshaw too won the tournament seven times, but in the amateur era.
Among women, the legendary Martina Navratilova holds the record with 9 singles titles. Steffi Graff and Serena Williams have won the title 7 times.
The tournament was played for the first time in the year 1884.
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker on Tuesday pleaded for tournament chiefs to wait longer before making a decision.
“I really hope Wimbledon will wait until the end of April for decision!” he tweeted.
“The tourney is first week of July… patience is a virtue.” But former women’s world number one Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 women’s champion, said the 2020 season would probably need to be scrapped.
The cancellation of Wimbledon could mean multiple champions Federer, Serena Williams and Venus Williams have played at the All England Club for the final time.
Federer and Serena will be nearly 40 by the time of the 2021 championships and Venus will be 41.
Serena, beaten in last year’s final by Halep, is stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles — agonisingly one away from equalling Margaret Court’s record.
The French Tennis Federation provoked widespread anger with its unilateral decision to move the French Open from its original May 24 start date to begin on September 20.
That puts the start only one week after the planned date of the US Open men’s final.