"No plans" to move starting time on Centre Court at Wimbledon, say organizersBy Jul 05, 2022
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"No plans" to move starting time on Centre Court at Wimbledon, say organizers
"Putting these gaps in and starting when we did enables our guests to enjoy the full 'Wimbledon experience,' and have breaks off court," explained Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club.
Published Jul 05, 2022
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There are no plans to change start times on Centre Court despite evening matches frequently finishing under the roof during the first week of Wimbledon, according to organizers.
"Other than we continually review what we do, but there are no plans to move the start time," said Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club. "The reality of running a tennis event is that once you start the day you have no idea when the day's going to finish. It is pretty unpredictable. We think about that in the scheduling process but we're certainly not moving to night sessions."
She added that the schedule tends to run much longer at the other Grand Slams, which also have night sessions.
The starting time for play on Centre Court has been shifted back to 1:30 p.m. this year from 1:00 p.m. in recent years, with matches running long on multiple days during the first week and requiring the roof to be shut so the indoor lighting system can be used. The schedule has also run long on Court No. 1, which has a 1:00 p.m. start. Both show courts typically have three matches each on the schedule during the first week.
There is an 11:00 a.m. start on the side courts, which do not have a lighting system.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic, who finished his fourth-round encounter against Tim Van Rijthoven under the roof, said there was a rumor of "some talks about maybe moving the beginning of the matches," noting that having to shut the roof "changes the conditions, the style of play, the way you move on the court"—all why he's in favor of moving up the start times.
"Since there are some changes this year that we never thought we'll see in Wimbledon, why not move it half an hour, one hour... particularly now that there are on-court interviews that we didn't have up to few years ago," he said. "I think it would be quite helpful to finish matches maybe not using the roof."
But Bolton pointed to the need for spectators to take breaks during the day as another consideration in the scheduling.
"I think it's understandable that players are providing feedback on the experience that they're having at the Championships. Of course we take account of all of that as we think about the way in which we plan our days," she said. "The start time has not been pushed back significantly. It's effectively half an hour.
"Putting these gaps in and starting when we did enables our guests to enjoy the full 'Wimbledon experience,' and have breaks off court."
Players however, might not be convinced. Andy Murray, who finished his opening-round win under the roof, commented, "Yeah, it's not that easy, changing conditions like that, and also having breaks like that, potentially key points in matches."
The roof and air-ventilation system requires a break of more than 10 minutes before play can start again.
"You cool off a little bit," said Murray.
The tournament also has an 11:00 p.m. playing curfew requirement based on municipal regulations.