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January 06, 2004

WIMBLEDON'S SLIDING ROOF

Well, now why didn't I think of that?
All England Club announces sliding roof for Centre Court

By KRYSTYNA RUDZKI | AP Writer
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — One of Wimbledon’s enduring traditions will soon be consigned to history. At last, Centre Court is getting a roof.

The All England Club on Tuesday announced plans for a sliding roof over the famous arena to bring an end to the rain delays that have become synonymous with the Grand Slam event.

Spectators will have to endure rain delays for several more years, however. The club still needs to get planning permission and work won’t start for at least two years. The roof won’t be in place until 2009.

Rain has always been an obsession at Wimbledon — the official statistics book even has a year-by-year summary of the weather during the tournament dating back to 1919.
Only six tournaments were untouched by rain — 1908, 1931, 1976, 1977, 1993 and 1995.

Since 1877, rain has completely washed out 30 days of Wimbledon.

In five tournaments, men’s doubles matches were reduced from five to three sets to help clear a backlog from rain delays. The last time that happened was in 1998.

Wimbledon has been extended 14 times due to rain — the last in 2001 when Goran Ivanisevic beat Pat Rafter in the men’s final on a Monday.

Centre Court was built in 1922 when the grounds were moved to their current Church Road site in southwest London. The original grounds had been built nearby in 1868.

Wimbledon has been investigating installing a roof for years, but had difficulties in finding a solution that wouldn’t harm the grass surface which needs the sun, rain and air to help it grow.

Covering Centre Court isn’t likely to help the tournament as a whole — if it rains, the other 19 courts cannot be used and there are 650 matches to be played during the two weeks of Wimbledon, which takes place this year from June 21 to July 4.
Tennis is my game. Pool is right up there, too.