Tennis (illustration)
Tennis (illustration) iStock

The annual Wimbledon tennis tournament was canceled on Wednesday for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This is the first time in Wimbledon’s nearly century-and-a-half history that it has been cancelled for a reason other than war.

With Britain under a nationwide lockdown, the All England Club announced its decision to call off the tournament for the first time in 75 years.

"It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars," club chairman Ian Hewitt said, according to The Associated Press.

“But, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year's Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon's resources to help those in our local communities and beyond," he added.

Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12. Instead, the next edition of the tournament will be June 28 to July 11, 2021.

Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer surely spoke for many tennis players, officials and fans with a one-word message on Twitter: "Devastated."

Also Wednesday, the ATP and WTA announced that the men's and women's professional tours would be suspended until at least July 13, bringing the number of elite tennis tournaments affected by the new coronavirus since early March to more than 30.

The top tours already had been on hold through June 7. Lower-level events on the Challenger Tour and ITF World Tennis Tour also are called off for the first two weeks of July now.

Wimbledon first was held in 1877 and has been contested every year since, with the exception of two stretches: from 1915-18 because of World War I, and from 1940-45 because of World War II.

Wimbledon is the first Grand Slam tournament wiped out because of the coronavirus. The start of the French Open was postponed from late May to late September.

It is the latest sports-related event to have been affected by the coronavirus. Last week, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics were forced to delay the Games, which were scheduled for this summer, due to the pandemic.

The Games will instead begin on July 23 next year and run until August 8.

Last week, UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, postponed its marquee championship, Euro 2020, until next week in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

It was followed by the NHL which suspended its season as well, and MLB which cancelled Spring Training and delayed the start of its regular season, which had been scheduled for March 26.