The COVID-19 crisis has led tennis officials to cancel the yearly Wimbledon competition, the oldest of the Grand Slam events. It is the first Wimbledon to be canceled since 1945, when World War II interfered.
Britain ordered a nationwide lockdown just over a week ago. On Wednesday, the All England Club, which operates Wimbledon, announced the cancellation and expressed its “great regret.”
Wimbledon was to take place at its site near London from June 29 to July 12. Instead, officials say the 134th tournament will be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021.
Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer spoke for many with a one-word message on Twitter: “Devastated,” he wrote.
Also on Wednesday, officials of the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women’s Tennis Association announced they were suspending play until at least July 13.
As of now, the COVID-19 crisis has interfered with plans for more than 30 top tennis competitions. Many lower-level events also have been suspended until the middle of July.
The first Wimbledon took place in 1877. It has been held every year since, with the exception of two periods: World War I and II prevented play from 1915 to 1918 and from 1940 to 1945.
All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a news release that the decision was made “after thorough and extensive consideration….” He added that the club now will plan how it can “use the breadth of Wimbledon's resources to help those in our local communities and beyond."
Wimbledon joins the growing list of sports events canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19.
That includes the Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back 12 months.
Wimbledon is the first Grand Slam event to be canceled this year. The start of another, the French Open, has been postponed from late May to late September.
Shortly after the news came from Wimbledon, the U.S. Tennis Association issued a statement saying it “still plans to host the U.S. Open” as planned from August 31 to September 13 in New York City.
Wednesday's decision means Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep will not get a chance to defend their Wimbledon wins from 2019.
“We are going through something bigger than tennis and Wimbledon will be back!” Halep wrote on social media. “And it means I have even longer to look forward to defending my title.”
Serena Williams retweeted the club's message about the cancellation and wrote: “I'm Shooked.”
The All England Club said it would work to help with COVID-19 emergency operations, including providing medical equipment and food.
Usual day-to-day life has come to a halt in many ways in many parts of the world -- and the sports world is no exception.
The National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball are suspended; the Kentucky Derby and Indianapolis 500 were pushed back several months to September; England's Premier League and other club soccer competitions are suspended; and the European soccer championship was postponed from 2020 to 2021.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
lockdown -n. an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger
tournament -n. a sports competition or series of contests that involves many players or teams and that usually continues for at least several days
devastate -v. to cause (someone) to feel extreme emotional pain
title -n. the status or position of being the champion in a sport or other competition
breadth -n. the quality of including many things: the wide scope or range of something