Members of the venerable All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) are foresighted when it comes to Wimbledon. In the insurance policy taken out for a sum of seven digits according to the Daily Mail, the organizers of the tournament had the good idea to include a "pandemic" clause next to those covering them against a terrorist attack or the death of Queen Elizabeth II (and the period of mourning that would follow in Great Britain).
They were well advised. Due to the Covid-19 epidemic and the country's health situation, the AELTC announced on Wednesday 1er April, the cancellation of the 2020 edition of Wimbledon, scheduled for June 29 to July 12. Only the two world wars prevented the holding of the oldest Grand Slam tournament, whose revenues for the 2019 edition amounted to 280 million euros.
It is with great regret that the AELTC has today decided that The Championships 2020 will be canceled due to publi… https://t.co/30zyV5mDer
This decision comes as no surprise. On March 25, the tournament organization was already preparing the tennis world for this prospect in a press release: "The very thin window we have to organize Wimbledon because of our surface indicates that a postponement would not be without considerable risk and difficulty. "
It's that the turf works with its own agenda unlike clay or hard surfaces. The courts are pampered for eleven months by caring gardeners before the players tread them on D-Day.
Difficult to imagine, then, to shift the tournament, especially when your little comrades of the French Tennis Federation (FFT) cut the grass under your feet by shifting Roland-Garros in early fall (from September 20 to 4 October) and further reduce your options.
Later in the season, the green London lurking was likely to become an ice rink due to the humidity, not to mention, of course, a capricious weather and shorter days – only the Central court and the number 1 have a roof and lighting.
Eight-time tournament winner, Roger Federer said "Devastated" by this announcement. Just like Serena Williams (seven wins) who says she is "Shocked".
Devastated https://t.co/Fg2c1EuTQY https://t.co/cm1wE2VwIp
I’m Shooked https://t.co/dS0cNcCdm0
The US Open tries to reassure
Stopped since March 9 and until July 13 at least as just announced ATP and WTA, the world of tennis has been preparing in recent days to announce the closure of its "temple" for 2020. Some have played oracles to announce the hypothesis of a white season.
"I think we're going to have to draw a line under the 2020 tennis season", wrote, on Tuesday, Amélie Mauresmo on his Twitter account. The 2006 Wimbledon winner believes that sanitary conditions are not in place by the end of the year, especially in a sport as nomadic as tennis:
“The international circuit is made up of players of all nationalities plus the management, spectators and people from all over the world who bring these events to life. "
Among active players, many also fear being laid off for a while. Australian John Millman predicts "A very long time without tennis". Same story for the French Jérémy Chardy, questioned by The team. "I tell myself that we are going towards a white season"fears the current 59e worldwide.
Like Wimbledon grass, coronavirus also has its own calendar. On the one hand, there is the slim and paltry hope of maintaining a tournament, on the other, the dramatic health reality.
While Danny Zausner, the director of USTA, the American tennis federation which manages the New York tournament, declares that the US Open must "Behave as expected" in late August, the city's elected democrat, Jimmy Van Brammer, launched a terrible warning message: The virus may have been born in Wuhan, but New York is going to be Ground Zero. "
Clear the 2020 season?
One by one, the possible options for postponements of the various tournaments fall apart. The Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000s (slated for March) were planning to find refuge in July, but that seems unlikely today.
It is also hard to see how the traditional Roland-Garros preparation tournaments of Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome will be able to relocate in the fall. Director of the Masters 1000 in Madrid, Gérard Tsobanian is not very optimistic for his baby. "The more weeks pass, the more it tastes like saving furniture", he observed in an interview with The Team.
Tsobanian even talks about the idea of a deadline by which the ATP and the WTA, the men's and women's circuits, will have to declare the white season. "We erase it from the calendar and start again. What you should do is stop everything on December 31, 2019 to start again on 1er January 2021. There is no ranking that holds up, points all that… "
Not sure that the FFT validates this option, it which receives a rain of critics since its unilateral decision to move the date of Roland-Garros. Its president, Bernard Giudicelli, recalls that it is about saving the showcase of tennis on clay and funding French amateur tennis thanks to the 250 million euros of estimated revenue from the Paris fortnight.
Even the threat of having the famous tournament deprived of the famous points distributed to the players did not move Mr. Giudicelli from his line. It must be said that he probably did not take out the same insurance policy as the members of All England.