LONDON: Former champion Roger Federer said he was “devastated” that Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus.
Wimbledon chiefs pulled the plug on the oldest Grand Slam tournament on Wednesday in response to the continued chaos caused by the pandemic.
Federer, who has won a record eight Wimbledon men’s singles titles, reacted with a single word, tweeting: “devastated”.
Serena Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon women’s singles champion, was also rocked by the news as the American tweeted: “I’m Shooked (sic)”.
Federer and Serena will be nearly 40 by the time of the 2021 championships.
Wimbledon was due to run for two weeks from June 29, with Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep set to defend their singles titles.
But All England Club chiefs were left with no choice but to cancel the grass-court event – which was first staged in 1877 – due to the continued health crisis across the world.
Halep, the Romanian who defeated Serena to win Wimbledon for the first time last year, tweeted: “So sad to hear Wimbledon won’t take place this year.
“Last year’s final will forever be one of the happiest days of my life! But we are going through something bigger than tennis and Wimbledon will be back! And it means I have even longer to look forward to defending my title.”
American legend Billie-Jean King, a six-time singles champion at Wimbledon, said the cancellation was the right decision.
‘It’s a tough one’
“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.”
Two-time champion Petra Kvitova summed up the prevailing sentiment among players as she said it would be hard to go a year without visiting Wimbledon.
“Definitely a tough one to take, with the announcement of the cancellation of Wimbledon this year,” she said.
“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.”
Coco Gauff, the teenager who dazzled with her surprise run to the last 16 year, tweeted: “I’m gonna miss playing in Wimbledon this year. Stay safe everyone, love you guys.”
Kevin Anderson, beaten by Djokovic in the 2018 final, tweeted: “I’ve always had so many great memories at Wimbledon.
“The grass season will definitely be missed but the most important thing right now for us to focus on is that we’re all staying healthy and safe at home.”