London – The coronavirus has now brought Wimbledon to its knees. For the first time since the Second World War, the classic tennis sport does not take place this year.
In the course of the cancellation of the prestigious traditional event, the four German lawn tournaments in Stuttgart, Halle / Westphalia (both men) and Berlin and Bad Homburg (both women) were canceled in June. No tennis tournaments will take place until July 13, as the ITF, ATP, and WTA announced on Wednesday.
“Devastated,” said Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer, who would have loved to triumph at Wimbledon for the ninth time this summer. “We are going through difficult times, but we will emerge strengthened from it.” Last year Federer had to defeat the Serb Novak Djokovic in an epic finale. Federer can only make a new attempt to win the title from June 28 to July 11, 2021, if the 134th edition is to take place after a year off.
Boris Becker showed an understanding of the cancellation. “After all tournaments had been canceled by June, those responsible had to make this decision,” said the three-time champion on Wednesday night at Eurosport. Nevertheless, the Leimener living in London would have wished “that they had to wait four weeks before making the decision. However, if you live here in London, you hear a lot of horror stories about the virus. So I can understand that you have to bow to this pressure, »said the 52-year-old. However, he does not believe that the classic lawn will have economic problems due to the cancellation.
“I can hardly put into words how heavy my heart is, that the cancellation of the lawn season also means that I will not be able to play in front of my home audience in Bad Homburg and Berlin,” wrote Angelique Kerber on social networks. The German number one also acts as an ambassador for the new tournament in Bad Homburg and had triumphed in Wimbledon in 2018.
«But given the current situation, sporting issues are completely in the background. There are other priorities at the moment, “said Kerber.” It’s an unfortunate move. But against the background of the current situation there is no alternative, »said Ralf Weber, tournament director of the Noventa Open in Halle.
While the organizers in Halle and Bad Homburg have already resigned themselves to a complete cancellation this year, they still hope in Berlin and Stuttgart to be rescheduled for a later date this year. “Postponing the bett1open to a later date in 2020 is an option for us – but only if the situation relaxes enough that the WTA tour can be played again without hesitation,” said tournament director Barbara Rittner.
But when the tennis tour can ever return to normal is questionable. In hardly any other sport are players, coaches, and referees so dependent on freedom of travel worldwide. The Australian Open boss already drew a horror scenario. “My personal view is that it will be difficult for tennis to come back this year,” said Craig Tiley of the “Sydney Morning Herald”. “We have to plan for the worst-case and hope for the best.”
The three-time Wimbledon winner Becker, on the other hand, said: “We should stop painting black … of course tennis will still be played this year.” But when that will be is more open than ever. As the first planned tournament, the Hamburg European Open will be on the calendar from July 13th. However, their staging is also uncertain.
“We didn’t make the decision easy,” said Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Given the dramatic impact of the pandemic, it is the right decision in terms of public health.
The entire clay-court season including the French Open in Paris, which was due to start in late May, had already been canceled. The French tennis association had moved the French Open on its own initiative and apparently without consultation to the period from September 20 to October 4 – and put in a lot of criticism. The US Open ends just a week earlier, but it also appears questionable given the dramatic coronavirus situation in New York.