The French Tennis Federation confirmed earlier on Thursday that due to the current COVID-19 situation in France and the associated restrictions, Roland Garros 2021 will start one week after its original scheduled date. This new development has prompted the All-England Club to release an official statement on behalf of all of the four Grand Slams, stating that the tune-up to this year's Wimbledon will be shortened by one week.
The Roland Garros organizers' announcement meant that the claycourt Slam would eat into an already jam-packed summer schedule. And while the postponement of the tournament was justified given fears of a third wave of COVID in France, not all events on the calendar can afford the same flexibility.
The desire to avoid any further adverse impact on the 2021 tour schedule prompted the Grand Slam Board to reduce the duration of the pre-Wimbledon grasscourt swing, from three weeks to two.
The Wimbledon Championships will begin as planned on 28 June 2021: Tournament organizers
In the statement posted on Wimbledon's official website, the "Grand Slam Board" explained the reason behind the shortening of the grasscourt season this year. The pre-Wimbledon swing was lengthened to three weeks only in 2015, since many believed that players should get more match-practice on grass before stepping on the lawns of Wimbledon.
The unusual circumstances this year, however, have forced the organizers to temporarily roll back that change.
"The Grand Slams, together with the Tours, were supportive of changes to the calendar to create an enhanced grass-court season of three weeks between Roland-Garros and The Championships from 2015 onwards," the official statement read. "It is widely agreed that this change has been very successfully received."
"However, given the considerable challenges ahead of the FFT in staging Roland-Garros, and to avoid further impact on the rest of the calendar, the grass-court season will be reduced by one week in 2021," it added.
The statement also confirmed that there would be no change to the schedule of Wimbledon itself, with 21 June continuing to be the start date.
"The Championships will begin as planned on 28 June 2021, with Qualifying taking place from 21 June 2021," the statement read. "The grasscourt season between Roland-Garros and Wimbledon will return to three weeks from 2022."
Whether the postponement of Roland Garros and the subsequent slashing of the grasscourt season will have any implications for Roger Federer, who will be looking to make another run for the title this year at SW19, remains to be seen.