2019 champ Halep out of Wimbledon with injury; Djokovic, Federer could meet in final

2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and runner-up Serena Williams
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and runner-up Serena Williams pose with their trophies after their match in July 2019.
(Tim Ireland / Associated Press)

Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep withdrew from the Grand Slam tournament Friday because of an injured left calf.

Her withdrawal came shortly before the start of the draw at the All England Club, where play begins Monday. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were placed on opposite sides of the men’s bracket, meaning that the two rivals could meet only in the final — which would be a rematch of their epic 2019 title showdown.

The tournament was canceled last year — the first time that has happened since World War II — because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The top-seeded Djokovic is seeking a 20th major title, which would tie the men’s record shared by Federer and Rafael Nadal, and can move closer to a calendar-year Grand Slam after winning the Australian Open in February and the French Open earlier this month. He will be trying to win his third consecutive Wimbledon and sixth overall. Federer will be trying to win his ninth title, which would be a men’s record.

No. 3-ranked Nadal withdrew from the tournament last week, as has No. 5 Dominic Thiem.

With Halep out, two of the world’s top three female players in the WTA rankings are missing from the field. No. 2 Naomi Osaka withdrew last week.

The potential women’s quarterfinals based on seedings are No. 1 Ash Barty vs. No. 5 Bianca Andreescu and No. 3 Elina Svitolina vs. No. 6 Serena Williams in the top half; No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. No. 7 Iga Swiatek and No. 4 Sofia Kenin vs. No. 8 Karolina Pliskova in the bottom half.

The possible men’s quarterfinals are Djokovic vs. No. 5 Andrey Rublev and No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 8 Roberto Bautista Agut in the top half; No. 2 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 6 Federer and No. 4 Alexander Zverev vs. No. 7 Matteo Berrettini in the bottom half.

Among the noteworthy first-round men’s matchups are Djokovic against wild-card entry Jack Draper, a 19-year-old from England who was the Wimbledon boys’ runner-up in 2018; two-time champion Andy Murray against No. 24 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili; and No. 21 Ugo Humbert against Nick Kyrgios.


Women’s first-rounders of particular interest include Barty against Carla Suárez Navarro, a 32-year-old Spaniard who recently returned to competition after being treated for cancer; 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams against 100th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who reached Wimbledon’s fourth round in 2018; French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova against 18-year-old Clara Tauson; and two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova against 2017 U.S. Open champ Sloane Stephens.

Halep tore her calf during a match at the Italian Open in May and sat out the French Open, which she won in 2018 for the first of her two major championships.

In 2019, Halep beat Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the final.