Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Wimbledon roof is great, but pity those left out in the cold…

May 18, 2009

agassigraf

As Wimbledon closed its new retractable roof over Centre Court for the first time in a drizzly southwest London on Sunday, the gap between the haves and have-nots grew wider.

Spectators and organisers hailed the new innovation, which will ensure Centre Court ticket holders will never again go away without seeing a match, but the rest of the soggy Wimbledon grounds provided a stark reminder of what it will be like for the majority of players and fans who walk through the All England Club gates next month.

Until this year, there was not much a player such as world number 100 Sergio Roitman would have in common with the likes of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. Except when it rained that is. No matter who you were, if it rained you were stuck in the locker room.

Not anymore. The chosen few lucky enough to be scheduled on 15,000 capacity-Centre Court will never again have to wonder exactly when the rain gods will let up. But since Wimbledon has another 18-odd courts that are used during the two-week long championships, the majority of players who make up the 128-strong singles draw will be left high and dry — or in this case soaking wet — when the heavens open.

Andre Agassi, who was given the honour of being one of the first players to test the conditions under the new multi-million dollar structure, dismissed suggestions that the roof would create a class divide.

“From a players perspective you could argue that those scheduled on centre court have a distinct advantage but you could also argue that those who have been scheduled on Centre Court have earned the right to have that opportunity,” the American told reporters.

While the roof will ensure television viewers will also be guaranteed daily live action, Wimbledon organisers would do well to invest in a pair of earplugs as they will undoubtedly be on the receiving of some harsh criticism from those left out in the cold.

IN SYNC: Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf during their mixed doubles match against Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters under the newly completed Centre Court roof at Wimbledon in London May 17, 2009. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

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