The All England Club have announced the cancellation of Wimbledon after holding an emergency board meeting on Wednesday.
The jewel in the crown of the British sporting summer yesterday became the latest casualty of Covid-19.
The All England Club, who organise the annual event, said that the interests of public health must take precedence. Since its foundation in 1877, the tournament has previously only stopped during the two World Wars.
Players were quick to express their regret on social media, although the decision had been widely predicted and did not meet with any obvious criticism. “So sad to hear Wimbledon won’t take place this year,” said defending champion Simona Halep, while Serena Williams declared herself “shooked” (sic) and Roger Federer said he was “devastated”.
Federer and Williams would have stood among the favourites, even though they are both 38 years old. With 15 Wimbledon titles between them already, this summer’s event would have presented the best chance for either player to add to their collection of majors. Sir Andy Murray had also been targeting a third crown as he worked on his latest comeback from hip trouble.
The financial impact of the cancellation should be mitigated to some extent by an insurance policy which covers “infectious disease” among its clauses. This means that the Lawn Tennis Association – which runs the British game, and usually receives around £40m from the Wimbledon surplus – are likely to be able to continue business as usual. For the players, however, the financial hit will be painful.
In a statement, the AELTC said that the club would be “developing plans to support … those groups that rely on the Championships”.
Meanwhile the LTA confirmed that the rest of the grass-court season, which includes the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club, has also been scrapped. Professional tennis will now not resume until Monday July 13 at the earliest, the day after the men’s singles final should have been completed on Centre Court.