Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Wimbledon should have started this week

The Wimbledon tennis championships should have started on Monday (June 29) had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The novel coronavirus forced the only grass court grand slam to be cancelled for the first time since World War Two.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced on April 1 that it was impossible for the tournament, scheduled for June 29-July 12, to take place.

Unlike the French Open which is played on clay, Wimbledon’s scope for re-arranging the start date was extremely limited.

While Centre Court and Court One boast a roof, playing elite level tennis outside on grass would have been extremely challenging in late summer or autumn with a lack of light and problems caused by dew forming on the surface late in the day.

Shortening the format of the tournament, or playing behind closed doors, would also have proved extremely unpopular with the players.

Wimbledon has been held every year since 1946 after a six-year hiatus because the country was at war.

The re-scheduled French Open was first moved to a Sept. 20-Oct. 4 slot but the main draw will now start on Sept. 27 and end on Oct. 11.

It means there is more space between the end of the U.S. Open on Sept. 13 and the French Open main draw.

The U.S. Open will be staged without fans and will not include a qualifying draw.

The men’s ATP Tour will resume on Aug. 14 with the Citi Open, ATP 500 event in Washington, D.C., while the first WTA event will be staged in Palermo, Italy from Aug. 3.

Following the Citi Open, the Cincinnati Masters 1000 will be held at Flushing Meadows, followed by the U.S. Open.

The men’s claycourt swing will start on Sept. 8 in Kitzbuehel, Austria, overlapping with the second week of the U.S. Open. Players will then be able to get more time on clay at the Madrid and Italian Opens before Roland Garros.

The WTA announced 20 tournaments, beginning in Palermo, before Cincinnati (played at Flushing Meadows) and the U.S Open before moving to the clay of Madrid and Rome.

After that the WTA Tour will traverse Europe and Asia Pacific, including the China Open in Beijing and the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen set for Nov. 9-15.

(Production: Tim Hart)

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