These are indeed unprecedented times. With the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe, there is no one immune to its devastating reach, not even tennis.
The tour has already been paralyzed. Just a week ago Indian Wells was the first domino to fall. The men’s tour and minor events soon followed, announcing a 6-week suspension until the last week in April. And today the WTA is suspending all their events until May 2.
But with the Trump administration/CDC calling for an 8-week stoppage on large gatherings in the U.S. plus travel bans, that all but means we’ll see no tennis for two months which virtually ends any hope of the French Open or any spring clay.
(Imagine if someone had told you at the start of the year that no spring clay events would be played, and the first Masters would take place in July…)
At the rate this cycle is going, we’ll be lucky to play Wimbledon in late June, though I remain hopeful.
In the big picture, it is rightfully safety first. Safety for the players, the fans and the officials. As of now I don’t think any players have been confirmed positive (Bernard Tomic and Slava Shvedova are both in the news but not positive), but if this stoppage does go well into the summer, the damage that will be done to the tours will be monumental and sport-changing.
The top players will be OK (will Serena play again? Federer turns 39 in August), but challenger folk who depend on those weekly winnings will take a huge hit. So too will the countless number of tournaments who will fold, even many at the tour level who won’t survive this global economic crash.
Racquet manufacturers, ball companies, tennis instructors, academys, tennis clubs and on and on, the ripple effect is absolutely dizzying and depressing.
If there’s any good news, next year’s tour will be more streamlined, perhaps revamped with an increase of bigger tournaments as the smaller events fold, and of course at the very end of all this, as a civilization we’ll be more aware of our surroundings, because this is going to change things far beyond the scope of tennis.
Tennis will be back. Until then, be safe. Be smart.
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