Wimbledon has decided to scrap the middle Sunday from 2022 and hopes that at least 25% of fans will be watching the tennis on TV within five years. Its three-year plan, announced on Monday, will also see an expansion of the coaching programme with the aim of making the sport more inclusive. International tennis body the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has signalled its support for the move, which the All England Club hopes will help attract a new generation of young supporters to the game. The Club will also extend its support for junior tennis in the UK and internationally, with the aim of improving standards in the sport and inspiring a new generation of players.
Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon singles winner
From 2022, Wimbledon abolishes the traditional rest day on the middle Sunday of the tournament.
Instead, the Grand Slam will be played over 14 consecutive days. Ian Hewitt, president of the All England Tennis Club, said this had been made possible by better maintenance of the grass courts.
Organizers also said they hope to have at least 25% fan capacity this year.
Ticket prices will remain at 2020 levels and the prize pool has not yet been determined.
We intend to hold the best championships while respecting public safety requirements. It will certainly be different from Wimbledon as we know it, Hewitt said.
A new tradition for Wimbledon
Wimbledon is the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments that, on average, has no match on Sunday.
A day off meant that the Monday of the second week was always busy, as all the matches of the round of 16 in the men and the women were played on the same day.
Due to rain interruptions during the week, four games were played on Sunday. The tournament was opened in 1991, 1997, 2004 and 2016 and is characterized by a carnival atmosphere.
Sally Bolton, general manager of the All England Tennis Club, said Wimbledon wants to find ways to maintain that atmosphere and is holding a public consultation to find out what fans would like to see.
Wimbledon has constantly evolved over time to meet the changing demands and behaviours of our fans – always changing but always staying the same is something we often talk about, Bolton said.
We want this great event to be accessible to more people around the world, so they can share in the joy of the championships.
The permanent addition of Middle Sunday to our program will allow us to do this and will become a new tradition that we hope to be very proud of.
So we can do more on the second Monday, which is called Manic Monday for a reason.
The round of 16 games will be played on Sunday and Monday. According to Bolton, the players would have more chances at quality games and the fans would have more chances to see more of the action.
Various plans not yet approved for 2021
Wimbledon was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and although it took place on June 28, a number of aspects have yet to be clarified.
Bolton said he is waiting for the government’s recommendations, based on ongoing research into the return of supporters to stadiums, before making decisions on capacity.
It will also depend on the government’s roadmap for reducing segregation in England, which states that all legal restrictions on social contact will not be lifted until the 21st century. June should be repealed.
We are confident that 25% will be the minimum we can build on, she said, adding that a decision on ticket allocation will be taken as soon as possible.
Due to the uncertain number of participants, the organizers will not decide on the prize money until June.
Plans for Henman’s Hill, where fans without show tickets can sit on the grass and watch the action on a big screen outside the first court, are still being worked out, but Bolton said it could be open while maintaining social distance.
Wimbledon was the only Grand Slam tournament to be cancelled last year, and the All England Club received a total of £180m from the pandemic insurance it had taken out.
The annual increase paid to the LTA, the governing body of British tennis, fell as expected, but remained at £35.9m.
No private accommodation for players
Other changes to this year’s tournament include the fact that players cannot rent private accommodation and must stay in a hotel.
The rule even applies to British players who live in the area, including Andy Murray.
The minimum risk we have created for players is a government requirement to get athletes into the UK without quarantine on entry, Bolton said.
The players enjoy the private accommodation and we hope to bring them back next year, but it’s just not possible this year.
Unlike some recent Grand Slam tournaments that have used electronic line judges, Wimbledon will still have line judges this year, but for the first time there will be a service clock that sets a 25-second serve.
All matches will take place as usual, with the exception of matches by invitation (legends).
Tennis correspondent Russell Fuller
All eyes are now on the series of test events currently taking place in the UK with fans in attendance.
It doesn’t look like there will be many spectators at Wimbledon this year, but one sincerely hopes that the capacity will be more than 25%.
We will miss the hectic Mondays, and the excitement of 10 Premier League games starting at 3pm on a Saturday. But at least we’ll be able to enjoy each game more in the final round.
All players must stay in official hotels and their entourage consists of a maximum of three people.
But despite the pandemic, and unlike some recent Grand Slams, the lines will be played by real people.
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