Wimbledon 2020 is no more, the illustrious tennis championships cancelled for the first time since 1945, with Great Britain and the rest of the world enduring the most disruptive period since World War 2 due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision was not unexpected, with tennis facing perhaps the most pressure of any sport around travel and country by country conditions and restrictions, but it’s still a massive disappointment for tennis fans worldwide, and especially those in the UK and elsewhere who had already made their plans to physically attend the tournament that was set to begin on June 29th. Wimbledon’s unique pandemic insurance coverage surely made the decision easier, as the tournament has far less to lose financially with the insurance than many other global sporting events of a similar stature.
The Wimbledon board’s decision was made concurrent with the rest of professional tennis governing bodies. The ATP and WTA immediately announced that professional tennis suspension would extend to at least July 13th, 2020, and that the entire grass court season was cancelled without exception including other tournaments in Britain and around Europe such as Mallorca, Spain and Halle, Germany, similarly the Olympics were already postponed to 2021. It is a sad day for the sport, in what is already a sad time for the world due to this international public health emergency.
Big decisions remain ahead as the tennis world ponders its future and what a restart of the professional game at any level would look like. A number of tournaments that have limited financial backing are left in a precarious position right now, still obligated to some of their expenses, but without revenue coming in due to cancellation, and it’s quite possible that some of these tournaments will not return next year, or see their licenses sold to new locations around the globe.
The players are suffering too, with those who were already scraping by on limited earnings due to their lower ranking put into an unexpected financial squeeze.Many of those players are requesting financial support from tennis governing bodies so they can continue to play professionally when the sport resumes.
The backdrop of all this is a set of ominious statements by Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley who suggested that pro tennis may not return at all in 2020 and could see the rest of the season cancelled. From Reuters: “My personal view is I think for tennis to come back this year is going to be tough,” Tiley told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“It relies on global travel, and I think that’s probably the last thing that’s going to come back. I think sports that have a domestic focus are in a strong position and sports that have a global focus are more challenged.”
Tiley is among tennis most influential business executives, and it’s unlikely he’s only offering up his own view without evidence.
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