LONDON – This summer’s Wimbledon championships will not go ahead “due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” organizers said Wednesday, marking the first postwar cancellation of the iconic grand slam.
The 134th championships, originally scheduled to run for two weeks from June 29, will instead take place from June 28 through July 11 next year.
“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of (Wimbledon) has only been interrupted previously by World Wars,” Chairman Ian Hewitt was quoted as saying in the All England Club’s statement, while emphasizing that cancellation was “ultimately the right decision” in response to the global pandemic.
The grass-court tennis tournament, held annually in southwest London since 1877, had previously been called off from 1915 through 1918 and again from 1940 through 1945 due to World Wars I and II, respectively.
In its statement, the club said postponement to a later date in 2020 was considered but ultimately ruled out, given that government travel restrictions will likely be in place “for many months.”
The ATP and WTA Tours also said Wednesday in a joint announcement that men’s and ladies’ pro tennis tournaments will continue to be suspended until July 13 due to the pandemic.
The move will result in cancellation of all events in the European grass-court swing that typically serves as a run-up to Wimbledon.
Last month, organizers of the clay-court French Open, originally slated to begin May 24, announced a postponement due to coronavirus concerns. The grand slam event in Paris is now scheduled to run from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4.