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Wimbledon tennis courts stand empty on what would have been first day

The All England Lawn Tennis Club was eerily quiet this morning on what would have been the first day of the Wimbledon Championships after the tennis tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep would have been the defending champions at the world-famous event in South West London, which was scheduled to run from today until July 12 – but it was called off on April 1.

This year marks the first time the competition in SW19 has been cancelled since 1945 during the Second World War, and the first time since it first took place in 1877 that it has not been played during peacetime.

Officials at the AELTC – which was insured against cancellation – had discussed moving the tournament into late July or August this year, but they were concerned about too little sunlight and too much dew at that time of year.

Playing behind closed doors was also ruled out amid concerns for the training of ball boys and girls and thousands of officials, line judges, stewards, players, suppliers, media and contractors being present on the grounds.   

TODAY: An aerial view of the empty All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning in Wimbledon, South West London

LAST YEAR: An aerial view taken from a helicopter of crowds at the Wimbledon Championships on July 4, 2019

LAST YEAR: An aerial view taken from a helicopter of crowds at the Wimbledon Championships on July 4, 2019 

TODAY: Hardly anyone is to be seen at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning on the day Wimbledon was due to start

TODAY: Hardly anyone is to be seen at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning on the day Wimbledon was due to start

LAST YEAR: Fans wait to be let into the All England Lawn Tennis Club on day one of Wimbledon on July 1, 2019

LAST YEAR: Fans wait to be let into the All England Lawn Tennis Club on day one of Wimbledon on July 1, 2019

TODAY: An empty Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning where the tournament was due to start

TODAY: An empty Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning where the tournament was due to start

Officials at the AELTC, pictured today, had discussed moving the tennis tournament into late July or August this year

Officials at the AELTC, pictured today, had discussed moving the tennis tournament into late July or August this year

Security officials stand at a gate outside the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning where Wimbledon was due to start

Security officials stand at a gate outside the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning where Wimbledon was due to start

Security fencing stands on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning, when the event was due to start

Security fencing stands on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning, when the event was due to start

The empty roads around the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning on the day Wimbledon was due to begin

The empty roads around the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning on the day Wimbledon was due to begin

After announcing Wimbledon was off, the AELTC encouraged players and fans to ‘bring the tournament to their homes’.

British tennis hero Tim Henman and former Wimbledon champions Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Petra Kvitova and Pat Cash have all played their part.

American star Williams, 38, practised her killer serve from her garden and Serb Djokovic, 33, repeated his ritual of eating grass – which he has done after each of his five Wimbledon wins.

Aussie legend Cash, 55, marched up garden steps to re-enact his climb into the stands to celebrate after his famous victory in 1987. Henman, 45, in his tennis kit, watched one of his classic Wimbledon matches on TV.

Meanwhile, fans also recreated the Wimbledon spirit at home – complete with makeshift courts, umpire chairs and Pimm’s, strawberries and cream.

Other fans sent in photos to Wimbledon chiefs showing them recreating much-loved viewing point Henman Hill and playing games on DIY courts in tiny gardens. 

Security officials stand at the gate to Wimbledon this morning on the day that the tournament was supposed to start

Security officials stand at the gate to Wimbledon this morning on the day that the tournament was supposed to start

Turnstiles covered up at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning where Wimbledon normally takes place each year

Turnstiles covered up at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning where Wimbledon normally takes place each year

A lone worker walks past one of the entrances to Centre Court at an otherwise empty All England Lawn Tennis Club today

A lone worker walks past one of the entrances to Centre Court at an otherwise empty All England Lawn Tennis Club today

The empty grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club where the Wimbledon Championships had been due to begin

The empty grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club where the Wimbledon Championships had been due to begin

Security officials stand at a gate outside the All England Lawn Tennis Club in South West London this morning

Security officials stand at a gate outside the All England Lawn Tennis Club in South West London this morning

Construction at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in South West London today where the tournament had been due to start

Construction at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in South West London today where the tournament had been due to start

Construction works have not had to be covered up with the Wimbledon Championships now not taking place this year

Construction works have not had to be covered up with the Wimbledon Championships now not taking place this year

An order of play board is seen at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning where the tournament normally takes place

An order of play board is seen at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning where the tournament normally takes place

In place of any live action, from today BBC Sport will be showcasing rewinds of memorable matches, a countdown of the best finals and an Andy Murray Greatest Hits weekend.

Sue Barker will present Wimbledon: The Best of the Championships, on BBC Two every weekday evening, accompanied in the studio by Tim Henman and Boris Becker to look back on some of their favourite highlights.

They will also be joined on video link by former champions John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova while current players will speak about how life has changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

From 1.45pm on weekdays there will be a three-hour Wimbledon Rewind on BBC Two, with Clare Balding revisiting classic finals. And this weekend, there will be an in-depth look into Andy Murray’s career.

There will also be a look back at the frantic channel flicking last year, when the final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer was being played out at the same time as England’s dramatic cricket World Cup triumph.

A special documentary, One Day, will look back on 14 July 2019 when the two sporting showdowns took place simultaneously. 

A sign at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon this morning where the tournament had been due to begin

A sign at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon this morning where the tournament had been due to begin

Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep would have been the defending champions at SW19, which is pictured this morning

Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep would have been the defending champions at SW19, which is pictured this morning

The empty grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club in South West London where the tournament normally takes place

The empty grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club in South West London where the tournament normally takes place

Empty chairs and tables at a seating area within the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which is pictured this morning

Empty chairs and tables at a seating area within the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which is pictured this morning

A skip on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon today where the tournament had been due to begin

A skip on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon today where the tournament had been due to begin

Benches are taped off on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club today as the coronavirus pandemic continues

Benches are taped off on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club today as the coronavirus pandemic continues

An entrance to the All England Lawn Tennis Club is shut today, but would have normally been busy with spectators entering

An entrance to the All England Lawn Tennis Club is shut today, but would have normally been busy with spectators entering

A cyclist travels past Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in South West London this morning

A cyclist travels past Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in South West London this morning

On Saturday, Murray said the ATP’s revised calendar which includes seven tournaments in as many weeks is not safe for players, who will be forced to skip major events due to the crammed schedule.

The ATP tour, which was suspended in March due to Covid 19, is set restart on August 14 with the Citi Open, followed by the Cincinnati Masters, which will be held at Flushing Meadows before the US Open.

The men’s clay court swing will start on September 8 in Kitzbuhel followed by Masters tournaments in Madrid and Rome on September 13 and Rome Masters on September 20, with the French Open set to begin a week later.

Roger Federer, who owns a men’s-record eight championships on Wimbledon’s grass courts and has appeared in the tournament 21 consecutive times, is sidelined until 2021 because of arthroscopic knee surgery.

Last week, Wimbledon champion Djokovic revealed he had tested positive for Covid-19, after topless partying in a nightclub and organising a charity tournament amid coronavirus concerns. 

Dark skies this morning over Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, South West London

Dark skies this morning over Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, South West London

A runner passes a sign saying 'Our Lawns are resting this summer' at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning

A runner passes a sign saying ‘Our Lawns are resting this summer’ at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this morning

This year marks the first time the Wimbledon Championships have been cancelled since 1945 during the Second World War

This year marks the first time the Wimbledon Championships have been cancelled since 1945 during the Second World War 

Officials in SW19, pictured today, had discussed moving the world-famous tournament into late July or August this year

Officials in SW19, pictured today, had discussed moving the world-famous tournament into late July or August this year

This year marks the first time since the tournament first took place in 1877 that it has not been played during peacetime

This year marks the first time since the tournament first took place in 1877 that it has not been played during peacetime

Playing behind closed doors at the AELTC (pictured today) was ruled out over how many people would still be on the grounds

The All England Lawn Tennis Club, pictured today, was insured against cancellation of the Wimbledon Championships

The All England Lawn Tennis Club, pictured today, was insured against cancellation of the Wimbledon Championships

Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep would have been the defending champions in South West London (pictured today)

Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep would have been the defending champions in South West London (pictured today)

A flag in the wind outside the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon today when the tournament was due to begin

A flag in the wind outside the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon today when the tournament was due to begin

The main gate at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon today which was due to host the annual championships

The main gate at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon today which was due to host the annual championships

The world number one and his wife Jelena became the sixth participant of his controversial exhibition tour to catch the virus.

The 33-year-old Serbian, who is against vaccinations, saw his Adria Tour, hosted in Belgrade and the Croatian city of Zadar, descend into embarrassment.

During the recent lockdown pictures of Djokovic and his friends emerged – often bare-chested and standing next to each other as they ignored social-distancing – in a string of nightclubs after his tour events had taken place.

Other players who have also tested positive are Gregor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki – in addition to Djokovic’s coach Christian Groh and fitness trainer Marco Panichi.

Djokovic tested positive after he returned to Belgrade – having declined to be tested with everyone else at the second event of his tour which took place in Croatia. 

A smashing tribute! Wimbledon stars and fans mark the day the Championships were due to start by recreating the tournament in their gardens

It’s the traditional highlight of the tennis year that had been due to be served up today.

Wimbledon may have been cancelled because of the pandemic, but stars and fans are helping to keep the dream alive by recreating great moments – and playing tournaments in gardens.

After announcing Wimbledon was off for the first time since the Second World War, the All England Club encouraged players and fans to ‘bring the tournament to their homes’.

British tennis hero Tim Henman and former Wimbledon champions Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Petra Kvitova and Pat Cash have all played their part.

Verity Webber, 11, who plays at Wimborne Tennis Club, helped to set up a mini-tournament at her grandparents' farm. She was joined by her friend, Lauren Batchelor, also 11. The two friends are pictured together

Verity Webber, 11, who plays at Wimborne Tennis Club, helped to set up a mini-tournament at her grandparents’ farm. She was joined by her friend, Lauren Batchelor, also 11. The two friends are pictured together 

The Matthew family, of Highcliffe, Dorset, arranged games with their tennis-mad children Callum, 14, Freya (left), nine, and Jamie (right), seven

The Matthew family, of Highcliffe, Dorset, arranged games with their tennis-mad children Callum, 14, Freya (left), nine, and Jamie (right), seven

Tim Henman watching one of his own championship games. He made sure he was dressed all in white for the occasion

Tim Henman watching one of his own championship games. He made sure he was dressed all in white for the occasion

American star Miss Williams, 38, practised her killer serve from her garden and Serb Djokovic, 33, repeated his ritual of eating grass – which he has done after each of his five Wimbledon wins.

Aussie legend Cash, 55, marched up garden steps to re-enact his climb into the stands to celebrate after his famous victory in 1987. 

Henman, 45, in his tennis kit, watched one of his classic Wimbledon matches on TV while Czech ace Miss Kvitova, 30, tucked into strawberries and cream.

Meanwhile, fans also recreated the Wimbledon spirit at home ¿ complete with makeshift courts, umpire chairs and, of course, Pimm's, strawberries and cream

Meanwhile, fans also recreated the Wimbledon spirit at home – complete with makeshift courts, umpire chairs and, of course, Pimm’s, strawberries and cream

Henman, 45, in his tennis kit, watched one of his classic Wimbledon matches on TV while Czech ace Miss Kvitova, 30, tucked into strawberries and cream (pictured)

Henman, 45, in his tennis kit, watched one of his classic Wimbledon matches on TV while Czech ace Miss Kvitova, 30, tucked into strawberries and cream (pictured) 

British tennis hero Tim Henman and former Wimbledon champions Serena Williams (pictured), Novak Djokovic, Petra Kvitova and Pat Cash have all played their part

British tennis hero Tim Henman and former Wimbledon champions Serena Williams (pictured), Novak Djokovic, Petra Kvitova and Pat Cash have all played their part

Meanwhile, fans also recreated the Wimbledon spirit at home – complete with makeshift courts, umpire chairs and, of course, Pimm’s, strawberries and cream.

The Matthew family, of Highcliffe, Dorset, arranged games with their tennis-mad children Callum, 14, Freya, nine, and Jamie, seven. 

Mother Karen, 41, said: ‘We’ve added an umpire stand, chalk board and spectator benches to make it feel as if we’re at Wimbledon.’ 

Verity Webber, 11, who plays alongside the Matthew children at Wimborne Tennis Club, helped to set up a mini-tournament at her grandparents’ farm. 

She was joined by her friend, Lauren Batchelor, also 11. Other fans sent in photos to Wimbledon chiefs showing them recreating much-loved viewing point Henman Hill and playing games in DIY courts in tiny gardens.

Aussie legend Cash, 55, marched up garden steps to re-enact his climb into the stands to celebrate after his famous victory in 1987

 Aussie legend Cash, 55, marched up garden steps to re-enact his climb into the stands to celebrate after his famous victory in 1987

A couple of friends recreate their own Wimbledon tournament using a piece of cardboard in their garden

A couple of friends recreate their own Wimbledon tournament using a piece of cardboard in their garden

Grass caught: Novak Djokovic grabs turf, repeating his Wimbledon ritual. The tournament will not go ahead this year

Grass caught: Novak Djokovic grabs turf, repeating his Wimbledon ritual. The tournament will not go ahead this year

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