Wimbledon prepares for change but grass remains sacrosanct

April 21, 2009

TENNIS-WIMBLEDON/

Wimbledon enters a new era this year with the stunning new roof over centre court primed to protect the tournament from the worst of the notoriously erratic British weather.

The All England Club unveiled the new structure at a refurbished Centre Court on Tuesday and while it will not eliminate rain delays — it’s going to take 30-40 minutes just to get the conditions right every time it’s put in use — it should spell the end for complete wash-outs.

While tournament organisers say they have no plans to follow other grand slams and schedule a night session, the effect could be the same if it does start chucking it down (and it’s hard to imagine it won’t).

tennis-wimbledon

If the roof is put in place during a rain-affected match, organisers confirmed on Tuesday that the plan is to play them to a finish on the same day, regardless of how late it gets.

That could be very late indeed if we’re looking at tight five-setters.

“We don’t want to see night time tennis and we hope and believe that that the matches would finish in day time hours,” All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said at a news conference. “But if they don’t finish we will close (the roof) and finish them.”

Night matches, a retractable roof … whatever next? Ditching the grass surface in favour of a hardcourt?

Never, according to All England Club chairman Tim Phillips.

“The game is lawn tennis,” Phillips said. “It was invented as lawn tennis. We have got the inclination, the time and the resource to prepare the grass properly.”

Resources are clearly not a problem at the club. The prize fund has been increased by 6 percent this year, with the winners set to to be rewarded with a recession-busting 13 percent pay rise.

Will Rafa Nadal be ecstatic with a cheque for 850,000 pounds if he retains his title? Don’t bet on it. Once you take into account the steep fall in the value of the pound against the dollar and euro over the past 12 months, it doesn’t look like such a generous move.

PHOTO: A security guard stands underneath the new Centre Court retractable roof at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London April 21, 2009. The new roof is on schedule to be ready for the Centre Court Celebration matches on May 17, and the Wimbledon Championships in June. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

[…] Left field » Blog Archive » Wimbledon prepares for change but …PHOTO: A security guard stands underneath the new Centre Court retractable roof at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London April 21, 2009. The new roof is on schedule to be ready for the Centre Court Celebration matches on May 17, … […]

Posted by Rain won't hamper Wimbledon again | Top Stories from 2009-04-22 | RT | Report as abusive

[…] Left field » Blog Archive » Wimbledon prepares for change but …Left field » Blog Archive » Wimbledon prepares for change but …PHOTO: A security guard stands underneath the new Centre Court retractable roof at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London April 21, 2009. The new roof is on schedule to … […]

Posted by Nadal on Fire Heading into Tennis Masters Rome | Report as abusive