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SBD/Issue 196/Facilities & Venues
Wimbledon Seizes Opportunity To Debut New Centre Court Roof
Published June 30, 2009
|Officials Close Centre Court Roof
For First Time During Wimbledon
FORCING THE ISSUE: In London, Dixon, Bennett & Pavia write the opening of the roof was "not quite the moment that the officials had expected," as tournament officials "found themselves rolling it out in the midst of a heatwave." The tournament had "progressed amid glorious sunshine and fears that the structure would prove an expensive folly" (LONDON TIMES, 6/30). Murray "feels tournament officials should have announced that the match would be played under the shelter of the roof earlier than they did." Murray: "It's tough when you're warming up, getting ready for the match outside and it's dry and then get told you're playing under the roof. The decision should be made before that match (Safina's) is finished so they can let the players know in a decent amount of time what conditions they are going to be playing under" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/30).
CHANGING PLAYING CONDITIONS: In L.A., Chuck Culpepper writes the roof "clearly will alter playing conditions," and it will "spawn bubbling debates about roof-usage propriety, and protocol for roof-usage announcements toward players." The roof also will "keep people up later." Mauresmo said of playing under the roof, "It makes the conditions a little bit different. ... It's really bright. But no, it's good" (L.A. TIMES, 6/30). More Mauresmo: "The ball was flying a little bit more, and when the ball is in the air it is bright. It's a feel, a little bit of feel" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 6/30). Murray said that the humidity "affected the way the ball traveled." Murray: "It kind of slowed it down a lot, and I struggled to serve because it wasn't coming off the strings that quickly. I like playing indoors, but I haven't ever practiced or played a match under a roof on grass, so you don't know what to expect" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/30).
Closed Roof Helps Accentuate
Reactions From Crowd
HISTORIC MOMENT: The LONDON TIMES' Rudd notes as the roof closed there were "gulps and then a final huge cheer and applause as the two sides of the structure finally eased together without a clunk or a click or a squeak." The "whole closure lasted seven glorious minutes" (LONDON TIMES, 6/30). USA TODAY's Robson notes fans "roared when the apparatus ... came smoothly shut" (USA TODAY, 6/30). In DC, Liz Clarke writes, "What was the harm, after all, if officials behaved like an impatient child who couldn't wait a moment more to show off a new toy? Spectators reveled in becoming part of Wimbledon history, as did commentators for Radio Wimbledon, who narrated each incremental development as the two halves of the roof crept on their trusses toward one another, centimeter by centimeter, in breathless fashion" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30). NBC’s Mary Carillo said during the seven-minute process to close the roof, "This is oddly exciting." Carillo: "There are so many fans here taking pictures of this, and so are we." NBC’s John McEnroe counted down as the roof finished closing, saying, "I feel like we’re landing on (the moon). 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.'" Carillo later said, "I am unbelievably giddy. This is not the first time I've ever been indoors so I'm not sure why I'm this excited, but there's something very special about this" ("Wimbledon," NBC, 6/29).
ABOUT TIME IT WAS ADDED: Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said of the Centre Court roof, "I like the roof being there, and I didn't understand all the complaining from the so-called purists about not wanting it. Wimbledon is so rain-delayed in so many years they had to build a roof. It hasn't hurt it" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/29). Washington Post reporter Barry Svrluga: "The few people in this country who want to watch tennis, a lot of times it's a rain delay. This thing probably should have been on a decade or so ago" ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 6/29).
ADDING REINFORCEMENTS: In London, Emily Benammar reports Wimbledon officials are "considering the option of opening up Court Two to Andy Murray fans on Sunday should the Scot make it to the final." The AELTC currently sells 6,000 grounds tickets per day, but the "inclusion of screens on Court Two would allow an extra 4,000 supporters to be on site." No decision will be made "until it is clear who will feature in the weekend's finals" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/30).