There is a risk that professional tennis might not return to action until 2021 because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. That fear was expressed by Richard Lewis, the chief executive of the All England Tennis club, which runs the Wimbledon championships.
He was speaking earlier in the week after Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since the end of the Second World War, becoming the latest high profile sporting casualty of the worldwide health crisis, cautioning that, whilst he was trying to be optimistic, it was not an unreasonable assumption to make that no more matches will be played this year.
They are more optimistic in Spain, where Miguel Diaz, the president of their tennis federation, is hoping that the season could resume sometime in the fourth quarter of the year. However, he is not able to predict whether matches would be played in front of spectators or behind closed doors.
Both the men’s (ATP) and the women’s (WTA) tours were suspended in early March because of the coronavirus outbreak, before the start of the prestigious Indian Wells tournament. Dates for a resumption of the season have come and gone, and now it does not look like thinks can get back to normal again until late July at the earliest.
Organisers of the US Open, the traditional final Grand Slam of the year, are still working on the assumption that their event will begin as planned on August 31st. However, those plans now look wildly optimistic. That event takes place at the Flushing Meadows tennis complex, which is located in New York, the city hardest hit by the virus in the USA, a country where deaths from coronavirus are outstripping China.
The indoor court facilities at the center have been turned into a makeshift hospital to treat patients suffering from the virus. Meanwhile, one of the show courts, the Louis Armstrong Stadium, is acting as a food assembly point, helping to feed patients, volunteers, and children from the surrounding area. Right now, nobody there is thinking of tennis.
If the season has ended for the year, it means that the career of one of India’s most successful tennis players ever will end with a whimper and not a roar. The 46 year old, who won eight doubles and ten mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, and who is the most successful player in Davis Cup history, had already announced that 2020 would be his last year on tour before retirement.
However, he would have been hoping to bow out in happier circumstances.