Wimbledon is in full swing but while the players all keep their eyes on the ball and the fans maintain their focus on the score, we are transfixed by the wonder of the roofs on centre court and court one.
It’s no secret that we love a retractable roof and have individually designed many over the years to cover (or not) tennis facilities as well as swimming pools and industrial warehouses. While the latter benefit from allowing access to cranes and other heavy machinery, the sporting venues benefit from the ultimate all-weather flexibility, letting the outdoors in during the summer months and providing usable space during inclement weather or bad light.
When Andy Murray’s first round match was delayed to allow the roof to close, so play could continue into the evening, he must have breathed a sigh of relief to get 15 minutes to regroup having lost seven games in a row. On a much smaller scale, he would only have had time for a bite of banana and change of ends as our telescopic covers can be retracted electrically on steel rails in under one minute.
Once closed, the humidity control systems at Wimbledon can take a further 45 minutes to create the optimum conditions for play to resume. Ventilation and temperature control also feature in our design considerations but as far as we know, non of our retractable roofs have been the centre of controversy.
In the 2018 Australian Open final, “extreme heat” rules provoked a decision by the tournament director to close the roof. While Roger Federer had been warming up in the Rod Laver arena with the roof closed, Marin Cilic prepared on an outdoor court in 38° heat. With the roof closed, the temperature was much cooler than Marin had got himself acclimatised to at 23°……he lost the match!
Whether it was the roof’s fault or whether Roger Federer just happened to be the better player on the day, there is no question that the roof has enhanced our enjoyment of sport simply by allowing it to continue no matter what. We are guaranteed play at Wimbledon this year for the first time on two courts even if our glorious British summer rain makes an appearance and for that reason we feel like raising the roof!