SBD/Issue 167/Facilities & Venues

Roof On Wimbledon's Centre Court Makes Successful Debut

All England Club Debuts New Retractable
Roof This Weekend During Exhibition
The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club yesterday debuted the new retractable roof on Centre Court during an exhibition doubles match featuring Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf against Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters. All England Club CEO Ian Ritchie said the planning process for the roof took several years and the construction itself took over three years. Ritchie: “You’re taking a 1922 building and refurbishing it from the foundations right up to the roof, but hopefully trying to keep the feeling of the Centre Court as well as modernizing it.” Ritchie added that night matches will not be played at Wimbledon because “we see this as an outdoor summer tournament and the roof is an insurance, so we still want to play with the roof open.” The BBC’s Sue Barker: “This is the first time that tennis is going to be played on the court with the roof closed in front of a full house. So, it is going to be a big test just to see how the court fairs under these new conditions.” Just prior to the opening match, Barker said, “I think everyone wondered what (the roof) would look like. Well, it looks magnificent” (“Wimbledon: A Centre Court Celebration,” ESPN Classic, 5/17). In London, Neil Harman reports the roof took seven minutes and four seconds to close, and “when the two sides of the structure eventually touched, a spontaneous round of applause burst out” (LONDON TIMES, 5/18). Agassi said, “It sure has lived up to the beauty that has existed here for a long time. It’s an exciting change, it’s an addition for the payers and the fans” (REUTERS, 5/17). ESPN’s David Lloyd said, “It almost looks sunnier there with the roof closed than it does normally” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 5/17).

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