There are some bucket list experiences in the world of sport.
Whether it’s Augusta National Golf Club the second weekend of April or Churchill Downs the first Saturday of May, the sports calendar is filled yearly with events that are not only among the most competitive in their respective sports, but also contests that are much more than sports.
However, few events from around the world can compete with the combination of majesty and competitiveness we see in late June and early July in southwest London.
For two weeks, tennis fans (and many sports fans) turn their attention to the All England Club for the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world – Wimbledon.
However, this year, we are all robbed of this opportunity.
On April 1, it was announced that, for the first time since England was recovering from the horrors of World War II in 1945, the spectacle that started in 1877 will not be played.
On the surface, some not familiar with tennis may ask what makes Wimbledon different.
The first thing that makes the Championships different is the actual playing surface. It is the only Grand Slam to play on grass. The ball travels faster on grass, meaning players must get to the ball quickly. Grass courts used to be more common, but the high maintenance costs have led many courts to become hard courts. However, the fact that Wimbledon still uses grass makes it feel classier than the other tennis tournaments.
That elegance extends past the court itself. From the strawberries and cream to the all-white dress code required for all players, tradition is everywhere at Wimbledon.
The players are called gentlemen and ladies, instead of men and women, there is no sponsor advertising on the court and many matches, especially later in the tournament, are attended by British Royals, including sometimes the queen. In fact, the trophies are handed out by the president of the All England Club, the Duke of Kent. How many other sporting events around the world are the trophies handed out by literal royalty?
It was this aura that was bestowed upon me when I attended the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2012. Even if you are an average tennis fan (like myself), you can’t help but be enveloped in it all. Since visiting the mecca of tennis, my mornings the first week of July have been filled with “Breakfast at Wimbledon” and watching the world’s best go at it.
All these traditions will still be around when the serves start again in London in 2021, but what makes this cancellation of this year’s tournament sad is that fans are running out of opportunities to see tennis’ greats play at an elite level.
Many of the best in the sport, such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, are getting old, with all of them in their mid-to-late 30s.
Wimbledon has been where they have excelled, with Federer winning eight times, Djovokic five times and Williams seven times. But, waiting a year may mean we never see them win the trophy again.
The cancellation of Wimbledon hasn’t gotten the attention the stalling of other sports have gotten, but I will miss the two weeks of Wimbledon about as much as I will miss anything else due to the history, traditions, and the missed opportunity to see the sports aging stars get one more crack at a title.
Tennis aficionados will get the opportunity to watch other grand slam tennis tournaments with the U.S. and French Opens returning later in 2020. However, there is only one Wimbledon and for that, well, we wait until 2021.
Follow Noah on Twitter @Noah_ram1 and contact him at [email protected]