No sooner did Wimbledon start than the British summer decided to press pause. We should have known better than to get too comfortable with the sun’s rays because the reality is that the championships have only ever recorded eight years without a rain interruption since 1922 and the rain has been causing havoc at the AELTC again this year. Only eight matches were wrapped up on the first Tuesday and 69 matches were cancelled. Thousands of pounds had to be refunded to court 2 & 3 ticket holders who got to enjoy less than an hour’s play that day. There were also farcical scenes of ground staff trying to dry the grass surface with leaf blowers because the roof on Centre Court wasn’t closed quickly enough. It only takes 10 minutes to do this but officials may have been hoping that the grey clouds were going to pass through quickly. It’s an outdoor tournament at the end of the day and that is why we understand that the start of one of Djokovic’s matches was delayed because, even though it was raining and the roof was on, the forecast suggested the sky was going to brighten up soon and tournament organisers wanted to let this contest take place in the open air.
So many questions are being asked about the roofs at Wimbledon as they always are. There’s even a Twitter handle dedicated to the fabric-covered canopy @WimbledonRoof and it goes without saying that we relish in the annual debates!
No prizes though for guessing which side of the fence we stand.
Our climate is just too unpredictable and without shelter over Centre Court and Court One, it’s not just the middle Sunday that might have to be recruited to get the schedule back on track but the subsequent Monday and so on. Should we be considering a covered structure over the outside courts too? It doesn’t need to have all the telescopic bells and whistles but maybe one of our fixed overhead covers could work with retractable side curtains so that fresh air can always circulate around the courts and you still get the feeling of being outdoors. We’ll suggest it to @WimbledonRoof
It’s not only the big occasions on the biggest stages that are affected though. The financial implications of play being disrupted because of bad weather probably hits the local clubs even harder. They must lose so much money from the cancellation of courts because of rain or poor light.
In our own extremely biased opinion, we would recommend that all tennis clubs invest in an indoor structure for at least one of their courts so that play is guaranteed. Having the option of a covered court encourages members to play more regularly throughout the year. It also enables you to employ full-time quality coaches that offer a broad programme of tennis for all ages and abilities so you attract new members and the business can move forward. Perhaps, it might even enable us to nurture more home-grown talent at home.
For the sake of the long-term sustainability of a sport that we love, get a roof!