Four-time Wimbledon semifinalist and All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) board member Tim Henman joined Tennis Channel Live host Steve Weissman and his former coach Paul Annacone to bring us behind the curtain on Wimbledon’s decision to cancel, rather than reschedule, the 2020 Championships.
“It was amazing how quickly the situation moved,” Henman said on Monday. “A lot of people at that moment felt the Indian Wells cancellation was somewhat of an overreaction, but in the preceding days and weeks you saw how quickly things were evolving. The more we understood the situation, we felt the cancellation was the right thing to do.”
One of the many different scenarios the AELTC considered was the possibility of holding the event with no spectators, but that was quickly put to rest.
“For Wimbledon to take place without any fans, you still need around 5,000 people on site,” Henman said. “The officials, the ball kids, the maintenance staff, the television production crews, catering, a certain amount of security, it really does escalate enormously quickly. You soon realize that wasn’t going to be an option.”
Paul Annacone and Tim Henman at the 2007 Queen's Club Championships - Getty Images
Annacone mentored the former world No. 4 from 2003 to 2007. It soon became clear the two haven't missed a beat with one another, with their sense of humor shining through.
“We have so many fond memories,” Annacone said. “I think you gave me more grief combined than any of the other players I’ve ever coached.”
“I think this is a great opportunity for clarity,” Henman responded. "The reason we started working together was because I enjoyed Paul’s company, I really never listened to anything he said.”
When asked about the AELTC's brilliant foresight as the only major tournament to take out an insurance policy covering a pandemic, Henman was quick to defer any credit.
“I'm no expert on insurance policies, but we are very fortunate to have the insurance in place. It’ll certainly fill a hole, but it’s still going to be challenging times moving forward.
"If we can take some positives out of this time, it would be around communication and the tennis family looking at what’s in the best interest of the sport to hopefully bounce back even stronger.”