Federer ‘devastated’ by Wimbledon shock
Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The world-famous tennis tournament was due to begin on June 29, but now won't take place until next year, organisers said in a statement on Thursday.
The official announcement came after weeks of speculation the game's most iconic tournament would have to be postponed indefinitely. The German Tennis Federation even jumped the gun by declaring earlier this week that the All England Tennis Club would have to shut down.
Despite all the warning signs, the tennis world wasn't ready to lose its most prestigious event.
Roger Federer was among the first to react to the crushing blow, which leaves the 38-year-old facing the reality that he may never play at Wimbledon again.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also expressed how much she would miss competing at the "special" tournament.
"Definitely a tough one to take, with the announcement of the cancellation of Wimbledon this year," she said on Twitter.
"Not only is it a special tournament to me, but it's a tournament that has been part of history for so long that it will leave a big hole in the calendar.
"I will miss playing on the beautiful grass and wearing my whites, but of course we know it will be back better than ever next year. And maybe we will all appreciate it even more! Stay safe and stay inside."
Serena Williams wrote simply on Twitter: "I'm shocked".
She was far from alone.
Aussie Pat Cash, a former Wimbledon champion, said he was "heart broken".
"Obviously heart broken losing the championships at Wimbledon this year. I'm saddened as the club supports hundreds of desperate local charities with the profits," Cash posted on Twitter.
"Players are adaptable thats a strength as pros it's the small people on the fringes who are really hurting now."
American legend Billie-Jean King, a six-time singles champion at Wimbledon, said the cancellation was the right decision.
"I fully understand and support the decision of the committee and it is vital we keep our focus on those most impacted by this pandemic. I have been fortunate to go to Wimbledon every year since 1961 and I am certainly going to miss it this year," she said.
"Right now, we need to make sure we are taking good care of ourselves and our loved ones. These are challenging times for all of us and now is the time for us to do what is right for our world and what works for our sport."
Members of the public who have already paid for tickets will be refunded and offered the chance to purchase tickets for next year's tournament, organisers said.
"I would like to thank all those who love Wimbledon for their understanding of these unique and unquestionably challenging circumstances," Richard Lewis, the chief executive of AELTC, said.
"It is your passion for The Championships that has shaped our event over the years, and will continue to do so, and we look forward to preparing a fantastic Championships for 2021."
This year's French Open has also been postponed from May 24 to September 20, making it the last of the grand slams in the calendar year.
"The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic. The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July, 2021," the official Wimbledon statement said.
Ian Hewitt, the chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC), said the decision was not taken lightly.
Wimbledon was first played in 1877 and has taken place every year since, except for during World War I and World War II.
"It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year's Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon's resources to help those in our local communities and beyond," Hewitt said.
"Our thoughts are with all those who have been and continue to be affected by these unprecedented times."
Originally published as Federer 'devastated' by Wimbledon shock