Wimbledon is the the latest sporting event to be cancelled amid the international Coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday.
“It is the Committee of Management’s view that cancellation of The Championships is the best decision in the interests of public health, and that being able to provide certainty by taking this decision now, rather than in several weeks, is important for everyone involved in tennis and The Championships,” it said in a statement.
“Uppermost in our mind has been the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Wimbledon happen — the public in the UK and visitors from around the world, our players, guests, members, staff, volunteers, partners, contractors, and local residents — as well as our broader responsibility to society’s efforts to tackle this global challenge to our way of life.”
The decision comes a week after the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until sometime in 2021.
History of Wimbledon
Wimbledon is one of the biggest and oldest tournaments in the world; with the first tournament held in 1877 at the All England Croquet and Tennis Club. The original tournament featured just a men’s singles tournament with a field of just 22 won by Spencer Gore.
It added a women’s singles tournament in 1884 (won by Maud Watson); and by 1913 the tournament also boasted a men’s and women’s doubles tournament as well.
From 1877 to 1967 the Club limited the tournament field to amateurs only, but allowed professionals to enter in 1968. Americans swept the men’s and women’s singles in the first professional rendition of the tournament behind Hall-of-Famers Rod Laver and Billie Jean King.
It’s also one of four “Grand Slam,” tournaments on the professional tennis circuit, along with the French, U.S., and Australian Opens. It also boasts the longest match in recorded tennis history, with John Isner and Nicolas Mahut playing a match that lasted 11 hours and five minutes played over three separate days.
Reaction Around the World
Tennis fans are not facing the disappointment of a big cancellation alone; but the stars of the game still reacted with dismay. Many players took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the circumstances.
“So sad to hear Wimbledon won’t take place this year,” 2019 women’s singles champion Simona Halep said. “But we are 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.”
King posted a longer message in a note on Twitter as well, making sure to lend some perspective on the matter.
“I have been fortunate to go to Wimbledon every year since 1961 and I am certainly going to miss it this year,” the note said. “Right now, we need to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. These are challenging times for us all and now is the time for us to do what is right for our world and what works for our sport.”
Wimbledon is the second Grand Slam cancelled in 2020; with the massive brush fires in Australia leading to the abandonment of the Australian Open.