Britain’s Murray brothers are rumoured to be keen to compete in a crowd-free Wimbledon substitute event this summer as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the tennis calendar.
London’s Times newspaper reported that the BBC is searching for programming to fill the vast hole in the broadcast output following cancellation of the grass classic at the All England Club.
Instead, the Jun 29-July 12 airtime can be partially filled by a special singles-doubles event behind closed doors between the top eight British players – Andy and Jamie Murray included.
The event would be big on social distancing, with no lines people or ball kids – and players even calling their own lines; few other details were forthcoming.
The tournament would be run on the round-robin format used at the year-end ATP Finals in London.
London’s Daily Mail has revealed that Wimbledon and the BBC could be ready to produce a daily show during the Championships time period, with regular host Sue Barker chatting remotely with various figures and former players as well as screening re-runs of key matches over the years.
Decisions on going ahead will likely have to wait until the course of the virus problem starts to recede in hard-hit Britain
“We intend to fill the fortnight with tennis action and chat,” Barker told the Mail.
“The plan is to film links around Wimbledon or present live from there if it is safe to do so.”
Meanwhile, in France, there is talk of a summer tournament to fill the gap.
The French Tour project plan aims to give players the chance to play during the suspension of the ATP Tour – and raise funds for charity.
The tour would feature a three-week group stage at four clubs on the Cote d’Azur, a one-week final stage, singles and doubles for men and women and a mixed doubles. Wild cards will be given to foreign players training in France and Monaco.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said the idea would be a great way to help many lower ranked players.
“Tennis is a very individualistic sport but it knows to show solidarity when it comes to helping others,” he said.
“In France when one of the club members is in difficulty everyone mobilises to help.