After emergency talks between the various stakeholders over the last few days, the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced that it was impossible for the grass court Grand Slam to take place.

The ‘build’ for the June 29-July 12 Wimbledon Tennis Championships is supposed to start in little over a month but it seems increasingly likely it will be forced to miss a year for the first time since 1945.
The ‘build’ for the June 29-July 12 Wimbledon Tennis Championships is supposed to start in little over a month but it seems increasingly likely it will be forced to miss a year for the first time since 1945. (Reuters)

The Wimbledon championships were cancelled for the first time since World War Two on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic struck another blue-riband sports event off the calendar and wiped out the entire tennis grass court season.

While the decision had looked inevitable for some time, since the virtual shutdown of world sport and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, Wimbledon had been one of the few events not to have been officially cancelled or postponed.

But after emergency talks between the various stakeholders over the last few days, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced that it was impossible for the grass court Grand Slam, scheduled for June 29-July 12, to take place.

"It is with great regret that the main board ... have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic," the AELTC said in a statement.

“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from June 28 to July 11, 2021.”

Tickets holders will be offered the chance to purchase tickets for the same day and court for 2021 championships as well as being issued with a refund for this year’s event, organisers added.

Wimbledon had been held every year since 1946 after a six-year hiatus because the country was at war.

Following the cancellation of the grass court major, and with the pandemic worsening in Europe and the US, the men’s ATP Tour, women’s WTA Tour and the International Tennis Federation extended the suspension of professional tennis for another five weeks to July 13.

“At this time, tournaments taking place from July 13, 2020 onwards are still planning to proceed as per the published schedule,” said a joint statement from the governing bodies.

Britain’s death toll from the virus reached 2,352 on Wednesday, according to NHS figures.

The French Open, originally due to be held from May 24-June 7 was postponed and controversially rescheduled by the French tennis federation for September 20-October 4, shortly after the end of the US Open.

The US Open organisers said they were continuing with their plans to host the hardcourt Grand Slam in New York as scheduled from August 31-September 14.

Source: Reuters