Traditionally, the last Monday in June is the start of Wimbledon, the oldest and widely regarded as the most prestigious tennis tournament of them all.
Held at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England since 1877, Wimbledon is played on outdoor grass courts. Its competitors adhere to a strict all-white dress code, a long-held custom. This year the tournament will run through July 12. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was canceled last summer for the third time in its history. The other two times were for World War I from 1915-1918 and World War II from 1940-1945.
In 2019, the last year that the tournament was played, Novak Djokovic won the men’s singles championship and Simona Halep won the women’s side. Djokovic is back to defend his title but Halep, who defeated Serena Williams in the 2019 finals, is not there to defend her title due to a calf injury. Similarly, Williams’ pursuit of a 24th Grand Slam title ended early at Wimbledon.
She won’t tie the legendary Margaret Court, who competed from 1960 to 1977, until perhaps the U.S. Open in New York in August after bowing out of her first round match in England on Tuesday against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus. Up 3-2 in the first set, the 39-year-old Williams slipped on the wet surface while planting one of her legs. She was soon after attended to by a trainer, tried to resume, but then fell onto the Centre Court grass and exited with an ankle injury.
The tearful Williams was in obvious pain, unable to continue the match tied at 3-3. The U.S. Open is likely her next major event, as the world’s No. 8 ranked women’s player entering Wimbledon had already announced she would not be competing in next month’s Tokyo Olympics.
In another notable first round match, Australian Ashleigh Barty, who’s spent over 80 weeks at the top of women’s rankings, defeated Carla Suárez Navarro of Spain, 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-1. Barty, who won the 2019 French Open but sat out this year’s tournament due to a hip injury, is seeking her second Grand Slam title.
As for Suárez Navarro, it was a victory even in defeat. The 32-year-old has battled cancer and underwent eight sessions of chemotherapy following a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma last year.