Wimbledon roof may be centre of attention

Wimbledon could be ready to announce plans for a roof on Centre Court after calling a press conference to unveil their “innovative plans for the Centre Court of the future”.

Wimbledon could be ready to announce plans for a roof on Centre Court after calling a press conference to unveil their “innovative plans for the Centre Court of the future”.

The possibility of a roof has been discussed seemingly every time rain disrupts the championships at the All England Club.

Climatic problems have been the major stumbling block but these are gradually being resolved and club officials have said they would seriously consider a roof if it was logistically possible.

Of the other three Grand Slam venues, only the Australian Open’s Melbourne Park currently has retractable roofs, over three of the show courts, but they could be added to Flushing Meadows and Roland Garros.

British number one Tim Henman was famously the victim of lengthy rain delays in 2001 when his semi-final with eventual winner Goran Ivanisevic took three days to complete, many feeling Henman would have won if not for the rain.

All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said tests were taking place on whether it would be feasible to install a roof on Centre Court and possibly Court One.

“Physically you can build a roof. The issue is not whether structurally you can put one up,” Phillips said at the time.

“The real issue is, if you put one up what does that micro-climate create in the way of dew on the playing surface? We have got top athletes who are trying to twist and turn on the grass.

“We are also concerned about the way the grass grows. We are doing tests on this, we have commissioned quite a lot of testing in the States.

“Until such time as we get total satisfaction that the micro-climate enclosed, that is being created, is going to be suitable for championship play, we would not consider it.”

Another issue would be what the implications would be for the other courts at Wimbledon if only one or two have a roof.

“I think there are a range of considerations, one of which is the ‘one-court’ tournament issue,” Phillips added. “This is an outdoor event.”

The press conference at the All England Club is scheduled for January 6, 2004.

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