First appeared in BOXSCORE
By Aron Solomon
With the French Open, one of tennis’ four majors, having wrapped up on Sunday afternoon, clay court season came to an end. That means that grass court season begins immediately, with Nottingham, England, as the traditional kick-off.
Yet on Tuesday morning, a devastating van rampage in Nottingham left three people dead and three others injured, plunging the city into high alert. Many tennis fans first learned of the attack from a tweet by British tennis star Liam Broady, who immediately heard about the attack. Despite this tragic incident, the scheduled tournament in Nottingham is proceeding as planned, which either demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity or completely disregards public safety, depending upon your perspective.
As personal injury attorney Adriana Gonzalez points out:
“Whenever there is a major event in a city, such as a sports event or concert, that brings in many new people, it can significantly complicate dealing with any emergent public safety situation.”
By all indications, Nottingham authorities swiftly responded to the distressing events. Following a distress call at around 04:00 local time, law enforcement arrived at Ilkeston Road, located west of the city center, where two lifeless bodies lay on the street. Soon after, they were called to another incident on Milton Street, where a van had reportedly targeted three individuals currently receiving medical treatment in a hospital. Additionally, a deceased individual was discovered on Magdala Road. These shocking occurrences threatened the scheduled tennis matches for the day, but the organizers remained resolute in their commitment to proceed.
'Somebody ran into the cordon and was ran after by police officers, essentially tackled and taken away in a police van.'— GB News (@GBNEWS) June 13, 2023
Will Hollis reports live from Nottingham after an individual broke police cordon, following an attack in which three people have died. pic.twitter.com/VPHgD33zF8
As the UK media widely reported, a tournament spokesperson affirmed, “Play will commence as scheduled at 11 am. However, we urge spectators to allow ample time for their travel arrangements.” As attorney Gonzalez observed, the Nottingham city center has been placed under strict lockdown measures, impeding access to the courts due to the presence of numerous squad cars, fire engines, ambulances, and specialized officers donned in body armor. This situation poses significant challenges for spectators intending to attend the tournament.
In response to the ongoing investigation, multiple roads (six major roads at the latest count) throughout the city and suburbs have been closed, while tram services have been suspended. The scene remains swarmed with ambulances, fire engines, and specialized officers equipped with body armor and helmets. The police have advised that road closures will persist for an indefinite period, promising to provide further information when feasible.
Making decisions in real-time as to whether to move forward with events such as tennis tournaments not only in the wake of a same-day tragedy but also with the surrounding logistical nightmares is a challenge no event organizer would ever want. Given the fact that the initial distress call was seven hours before the scheduled 11;00 start time, there may or may not have been time to mobilize both a postponement of the day’s tournament play as well as completing the necessary public safety work. In other words, disrupting the tournament might have been a more significant disruption to the city and the law enforcement efforts than simply choosing to move forward, as the tournament did.
For those of us who have been closely following tennis for decades, today’s Nottingham events remind us of two other tournaments disrupted by events far beyond the organizers’ control:
1993 Wimbledon Championships: The tournament was disrupted on July 2, 1993, when a bomb exploded in a litter bin on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The incident resulted in the evacuation of the club and the suspension of play for the day. Thankfully, no one was injured.
2011 BNP Paribas Open: The tournament, held in Indian Wells, California, was interrupted when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011. The earthquake led to a tsunami and a nuclear disaster in Japan. As a sign of solidarity and respect for the victims, the tournament organizers decided to postpone the matches for a day.
At the time of writing (13;32 Nottingham time) all scheduled matches are underway as planned, with Broady himself locked in a tight battle, tied 4-4 in the first set.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and the Editor-in-Chief for Today’s Esquire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, YouTube, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.