For the first time in 26 years, Roger Federer and Venus Williams will both be missing when Wimbledon begins on Monday.
When the official entry lists for the grass-court grand slam were released earlier this month, Federer, Venus and Serena Williams were all notable omissions.
While Serena later revealed that she’d been offered and accepted a wildcard, Venus and Federer weren’t in the same boat.
Federer has always maintained that he wouldn’t be ready in time for Wimbledon after a third knee surgery last year.
The 20-time grand slam champion hasn’t played since his loss to Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, with the 40-year-old later going under the knife.
The Swiss champion has committed to playing at the Laver Cup alongside Rafa Nadal in September, but was never a realistic chance to play at Wimbledon this year.
As for Venus, fans were holding out hope that they’d see the 41-year-old back in action at the All England Club after a 12-month absence.
The older Williams sister hasn’t played in nearly a year after she lost in the second round at Wimbledon in 2021 after succumbing to injury against Ons Jabeur.
Her return to the tour remains a mystery, with many speculating that she’ll opt to retire instead of launching a comeback like Serena.
What isn’t a mystery is the fact that when Wimbledon kicks off on Monday, it will be the first time since 1996 that Federer and Venus have both been missing (excluding the cancelled edition in 2020).
Venus only made her grand slam debut at the French Open in 1997, while Federer’s came two years later in 1999.
The only other time that one of Venus or Federer have missed Wimbledon was in 2013, when Williams didn’t play.
The tennis champions won Wimbledon in the same year twice – in 2005 and 2007.
Fans expressed their sadness that they won’t be seeing the tennis greats on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon for the first time in 26 years.
Serena Williams in fine form ahead of Wimbledon
One comfort for fans missing Federer and Venus is the fact that Serena will be playing.
The 23-time grand slam champion is playing doubles with Jabeur in Eastbourne ahead of a highly-anticipated return at Wimbledon.
On Tuesday the 40-year-old played her first competitive match since retiring hurt in the opening round at Wimbledon last year.
And on Wednesday she advanced to the semi-finals in Eastbourne after she and Jabeur beat Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching 6-2 6-4.
There were signs during the straight-sets win that Williams is regaining some of her sharpness after nearly a year on the sidelines.
Williams’ serve – the biggest the women’s game has ever seen – was increasingly impressive when under the pump, and she managed to clinch the match on her serve.
On the five break points she faced, she sent down four aces and one unreturnable serve.
“I think we played together much better today,” Williams said.
“Although I think we played really good together yesterday, too.
“But Ons really helped me out today. She was playing so good. I was just looking at her, like ‘Wow, this is great’.”