Wimbledon officials are expected to announce later this week that the grass-court classic will not be held this summer, becoming the sporting world's latest high-profile casualty of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Citing a German Tennis Federation vice president, Sky Sports Germany reported Monday morning that officials of All England Lawn Tennis Club, which hosts the two-week Grand Slam event, have decided against the limited options available for safely staging the tournament, which included contesting it without spectators.
"Wimbledon will decide to cancel on Wednesday," German Tennis Federation vice president Dirk Hordorff told Sky Sports Germany, alluding to an emergency All England Club board meeting scheduled that day. "There is no doubt about it. This is necessary in the current situation.
"It is completely unrealistic to imagine that with the travel restrictions that we currently have an international tennis tournament where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world would travel. That is unthinkable."
Other options have been considered for Wimbledon, including postponement, as French Open officials previously announced they intend to do with the season's second major, shifting the clay-court classic from its late-May start to late-September.
Because Wimbledon is contested on grass, which is extremely costly and labor-intensive to maintain, it can't be easily postponed. The window for competing on the All England Club's grass doesn't extend past late summer.
Moreover, the international tennis calendar is extremely crowded and now further complicated by the French Open's decision to shift its start to Sept. 20, just one week after the U.S. Open and in conflict with the Laver Cup, an all-star event co-founded by Roger Federer that is scheduled Sept. 25-27 in Boston. The move, made without consultation of the other Grand Slams or players' organizations, has drawn sharp criticism for its perceived arrogance.
More significantly, an alternate date for Wimbledon has been complicated by the plain fact that the duration of the coronavirus is unknowable. Any notion of shoehorning it into the July 23-Aug. 8 original window of the now-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics would represent a considerable leap of faith.
It will mark the first time since 1945 that Wimbledon has not been contested. It will also be the first time in history that the tournament hasn't been contested for reasons other than world wars. The tournament wasn't held in 1915-18 because of World War I; it was suspended again from 1940 to 1945 because of World War II.
Assuming the U.S. Open is held as scheduled, Aug. 24-Sept. 13, Wimbledon's cancellation will reduce the number of Grand Slams held in 2020 from four to three at a time when the game's greatest players are fighting age and younger rivals to add to their career tally of major championships.
Roger Federer, who'll turn 39 in August, leads all men with 20 Grand Slam titles. Rafael Nadal, who will turn 34 in June, has 19. And Novak Djokovic, 32, claimed his 17th in winning the Australian Open, the first major of 2020.
On the women's side, Serena Williams is without peer in the modern era, with 23 Grand Slam singles titles. Yet at 38, she is chasing the one goal to elude her: tying and surpassing Margaret Court's record 24 majors.