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Wimbledon Canceled Because Of Coronavirus

Officials at Wimbledon, the prestigious tennis tournament that is part of the sport's annual Grand Slam events, have announced it will not be held this summer. It's the latest sporting event to be sidelined because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

The All England Club announced Wednesday that the London-based tournament will now run the 134th Championships from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

"It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be canceled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic," officials said in a statement.

The club said canceling the tournament, which dates back to 1877, was the "best decision" in terms of public health and providing certainty for those involved in The Championships.

"While in some ways this has been a challenging decision, we strongly believe it is not only in the best interests of society at this time, but also provides certainty to our colleagues in international tennis given the impact on the grass court events in the UK and in Europe and the broader tennis calendar," Richard Lewis, the chief executive of the All England Club, said in the statement.

Wimbledon said previous tournaments have been canceled only by world wars. This will be the first time the tournament has been interrupted since World War II.

Seven-time singles Wimbledon champion Serena Williams tweeted, "I'm Shooked"after learning the tournament was canceled this year. Fellow tennis star Coco Gauff expressed a similar reaction tweeting: "i'm gonna miss playing in @Wimbledon this year. Stay safe everyone, love you guys."

Retired tennis great Martina Navratilova, who won Wimbledon nine times between 1978 and 1990, tweeted, "This is gutting.... and no, this is not an April Fools joke... Hope we can all be there in 2021!!!!

It's yet another major sports cancellation or postponement because of the pandemic. The NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and the Olympicshave canceled or postponed games or other league business because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wimbledon also said those who purchased tickets for this year's two-week tournament, which was scheduled to start June 29, will be refunded. They will be offered the opportunity to purchase tickets "for the same day and court" for The Championships in 2021.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.