Wimbledon cancellation sparks Federer and Serena retirement fears

Serena Williams and Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2019. Image: Getty

The decision to cancel Wimbledon amid the coronavirus pandemic has sparked fears that we’ve seen the last of Roger Federer and Serena Williams at the All England Club.

Federer and Serena were among the tennis stars left devastated on Wednesday as Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II due to the coronavirus.

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The cancellation of the oldest grand slam tournament leaves the season in disarray, with no tennis set to be played until mid-July.

“Devastated,” tweeted eight-time champion Federer, while Serena, who has won the tournament seven times, said she was shocked by the momentous decision.

Fears for Federer and Serena retirements

The cancellation could mean multiple champions Federer, Serena and Venus Williams have played at the All England Club for the final time.

Federer and Serena will be nearly 40 by the time of the 2021 championships and Venus will be 41.

Federer gave himself an enormous chance in last year's Wimbledon final, when he failed to take two championship points against Novak Djokovic.

It left him bereft in the aftermath, but this year Federer may have been able to feed off the knowledge he had been a whisker away, and another run deep into the second week was a realistic target for the eight-time champion.

It seems unimaginable Federer might have played his final match at Wimbledon - surely he will give 2021 a shot - but hopes of adding to his 20 slams have taken a clear hit.

Like Serena, he will be 39 - and pushing 40 - by the time of next year's grass-court season.

Serena, beaten in last year's final by Simona Halep, is stuck on 23 grand slam singles titles - agonisingly one away from equalling Margaret Court's record.

It seemed inevitable at one stage that Serena would catch and then pass Court's hau, and the American all-time great will be 39 by the time she next gets the chance to challenge at Wimbledon.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion last reigned in SW19 in 2016, and her last singles slam came at the following year's Australian Open.

Wimbledon’s ‘great regret’ after cancellation

Wimbledon was due to run for two weeks from June 29, with Djokovic and Halep set to defend their singles titles.

But tournament chiefs bowed to the inevitable on Wednesday, saying in a statement that they had made the decision with “great regret”.

US tennis chiefs responded by saying the US Open, due to finish a week before the controversially rearranged French Open, was still due to take place as planned.

All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said the decision to cancel Wimbledon had not been taken lightly.

“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by world wars,” he said.

“But, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year's Championships.”

Halep tweeted her disappointment.

“So sad to hear @Wimbledon won't take place this year,” she said.

“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.”

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray added: “Very sad that Wimbledon has been cancelled this year but with all that is going on in the world right now, everyone's health is definitely the most important thing!”

The decision to cancel Wimbledon was widely expected, with the world struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed more than 43,000 lives and infected more than 860,000 people, according to an AFP tally.

Organisers had earlier ruled out playing the event behind closed doors while postponing it would also have created its own problems, with shorter days later in the English summer.

American legend Billie-Jean King, a six-time Wimbledon women's singles champion, said cancelling the tournament was the only option in the circumstances.

“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,” she said.

“I have been fortunate to go to Wimbledon every year since 1961 and I am certainly going to miss it this year.”

with Omnisport and Yahoo Sports Staff