Welcome to inPhorm Phacts!
(We’re looking forward to when they can become inPhorm Phun Phacts, when the pandemic is over.)
Speaking of which, during the global Spanish Flu pandemic from 1918-20, many sports were not canceled, as they were this year. Even though doctors and scientists urged citizens to avoid large gatherings and take safety precautions; to observe “non-pharmaceutical interventions“ (masks and social distancing), many ignored the advice. (Sound familiar?) There was even an Anti—Mask League.
So with crowds in the stands and on the sidelines, Major League Baseball went on, with players wearing face masks. (Even so, Babe Ruth caught the flu.) The football season was shortened, but they still played. President Wilson urged soldiers to play golf for the exercise, and many fell ill. And golf tournaments continued throughout the states. Exceptions were championship boxing — and the Stanley Cup, cancelled in 1919.
And there was lots of tennis.
—Vintage film of a U.S. Southhampton tennis tournament in 1919 shows fans relaxing in groups without any masks.
— That year at Wimbledon, some attendees are pictured wearing face masks, but gathering together in large groups.
— The French star Suzanne Lenglen played in well-attended exhibitions in Italy in 1919 and beat every man she faced. (She won at Wimbledon the next year.)
So in this time of COVID-19, with the return of tennis and other sports, there will be no fans in the stands.
The US Open will take place from August 31 – September 13, the first Grand Slam event without fans. Tennis courts are 78’ long and 36’ feet wide, with a net in between, so tennis is particularly suited to social distancing. Even so, extra measures, like individual balls for each player, will be taken to ensure the health of the athletes and everyone involved. “I really cannot wait to return to New York and play,” says Serena Williams. “I feel like the U.S.T.A. is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe.” Amen to that, say tennis fans.
Alla Kudryavtseva, Gugu Olmos and Kaitlyn Christian, and maybe a couple of others, should be on the courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in those two weeks. As usual, they’ll be in top form in inPhorm.
The men’s and women’s tours, on hiatus since mid-March, are scheduled to resume on Aug. 3 with a clay-court event in Palermo, Italy, followed by potential tournaments in Prague and Washington. Then it would continue with the Western & Southern Open (Aug. 21 to 28), transplanted to New York, preceding the U.S. Open.
The men’s tour should resume with the Citi Open in Washington on Aug. 14. After the U.S.Open, both tours would head to Europe for the postponed clay-court season with combined events in Madrid and Rome and then the French Open, a Grand Slam tournament that was rescheduled from late May to September 27 – October 11.
We hope to make Phun Phacts about tennis a regular feature on our Instagram account — @inPhorm. #StayinPhormed. And let us know your thoughts about our content, and any suggestions for future facts (I mean Phuture Phacts, of course).