Wimbledon’s Covid-19 protocols are under review after Matteo Berrettini was forced to withdraw from the championships on the morning of his first-round match following a positive test for Covid-19.
The Italian was the second player in the men’s draw to pull out in less than 24 hours after a positive test and the withdrawals prompted the women’s French No 1, Alizé Cornet, to claim the virus was widespread in the locker room at Roland Garros, with players maintaining a code of silence.
Berrettini, the No 8 seed, was one of the biggest contenders for the title after reaching the final last year. After being out for nearly three months following surgery on his finger, the Italian returned at the beginning of the grass season and immediately won nine matches in a row, with titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s Club.
Wimbledon’s review comes after the No 14 seed, Marin Cilic, another former finalist and a semi-finalist at the French Open this month, also with drawn on Monday having tested positive for Covid-19, stoking fears of an outbreak among the players. While Cilic trained with the men’s defending champion, Novak Djokovic, in the days before the tournament, Berrettini trained with the No 2 seed, Rafael Nadal.
Wimbledon was conducted last year under significant Covid protocols, but this year the championships have returned to normal conditions. There are no preventative protocols for players, with the All England Club following UK government guidance.
After the recent outbreak the All England Club will review its current measures on Tuesday. “As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our local authority,” a spokesperson for the All England Club said on Tuesday.
“We have maintained enhanced cleaning and hand sanitizing operations, and offer full medical support for anyone feeling unwell. We are following UK guidance around assessment and isolation of any potential infectious disease. Our player medical team also continue to wear face masks for any consultation.”
After her straight-sets win against Yulia Putintseva on Tuesday, Cornet was asked about these recent developments and she said Covid was also present in the locker room at the French Open, referencing the withdrawal of Barbora Krejcikova after she tested positive. “At Roland Garros there was an epidemic of Covid-19 and nobody talked about it. In the locker room, everyone had it and we said nothing,” said Cornet.
Berrettini had been due to play Cristian Garín in the opening round and he was expected to make another deep run considering his form and his comfort on the surface.
In a statement on Instagram, Berrettini conveyed his disappointment. “I am heartbroken to announce that I need to withdraw from @wimbledon due to a positive Covid-19 test result. I have had flu symptoms and been isolating the last few days. Despite symptoms not being severe, I decided it was important to take another test this morning to protect the health and safety of my fellow competitors and everyone else involved in the tournament,” he wrote.
“I have no words to describe the extreme disappointed I feel. The dream is over for this year, but I will be back stronger.”