Wimbledon Centre Court roof

If you are intrigued by what goes on behind the scenes at Wimbledon, Chris Gorringe‘s book Holding Court is a must-read. Gorringe tells the story of his 26 years journey as All England Club chief executive. The book is full of anecdotes about legendary players (McEnroe, Sampras, Borg to name a few), but also describes in details the structure of the Club, the organization of the Championships, and Wimbledon’s Long Term Plan.
A few pages are of course dedicated to the Centre Court roof, which has been the real star of the 125th Championships so far.

Enjoy of few extracts of Holding Court:

“When we had first laid out the LTP (Long Term Plan) in the 90s, a retractable roof had been possible in as much as the technology was available, but what had not been proved to our satisfaction was that you could have a sliding roof that would work for grass court tennis. We had not seen a roof design that would: retain the grass at a quality that would withstand two weeks of play, and that would not make it sweat and be slippery; that would provide the right ambiance for the spectators; and that would allow grass to grow for the rest of the year.”

Australian Open roof vs Wimbledon roof

“We did not have all the answers, but certain members of the media and our committee wanted it as they had be to the Australian Open and seen the roof in action there.
However, the Australians had a different set of circumstances. When they moved from Kooyong’s private members’ club to Flinders Park (now Melbourne Park), in order to finance the set-up, the main centre court had to be a stadium design, not just a tennis arena. They needed the stadium to be used for as many days a year as possible, for concerts or whatever, which meant adding a roof but saying goodbye to grass. Once grass is taken out of the equation, the addition of a roof becomes very much easier.
Theirs is infinitely heavier than ours, is not translucent in any way, and is presumably specially designed in order for it to work well for concerts or musical events: there is no escape of noise or light through their roof. As well as having the roof over the main stadium at Melbourne Park, they have also built an adjacent stadium – again another multi-purpose building with a roof on it.”

Wimbledon Centre Court roof

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The Queue is a tradition as integral to the Championships as strawberries and cream, or predominately white clothing.

In 1927 queues started outside the ground at 5 a.m. and more than 2,000 people were turned away. In 1991, when heavy rain caused the game to be delayed to the Middle Sunday for the very first time, the queue stretched for 2.4 km outside the grounds.

The Queue is a very organized affair: on your arrival, an Honorary Steward hands you a numbered card (this custom was started in 2003 after having huge problems with queue jumping in the previous year) and a 40-page booklet called A Guide to Queueing for the Championships.

A ‘Code of Conduct’ applies to the queue, which is kept in check by the Honorary Stewards. The code includes a non-reservation policy, where people queueing must be present in person and may not place equipment to hold their places.
You can find all the info about the queuing experience on the Wimbledon official website.

The Queue exhibition

Wimbledon Museum’s latest exhibition, The Queue, explores the traditions and history of the Wimbledon queue and offering visitors an interesting insight into the very British queueing experience.
The exhibition includes tips for potential Wimbledon queuers and a display of objects collected from queueing over the years. Here are a few pics I took during my Wimbledon guided tour (sorry for the bad quality):

The Queue exhibition
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