Last Word: Tradition of wimbledon set to be eroded
WIMBLEDON – the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world – is upon us, and the weight of the nation s expectations is firmly fixed upon Andy Murray s young shoulders, writes Louise McEvoy. Wimbledon would not be Wimbledon if there wasn t
WIMBLEDON - the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world - is upon us, and the weight of the nation's expectations is firmly fixed upon Andy Murray's young shoulders, writes Louise McEvoy.
Wimbledon would not be Wimbledon if there wasn't some young British player we could pin all our hopes to, only to have them dashed as the tournament progresses.
Other factors which make the tournament what it is are queues, strawberries and cream, and rain!
A new �80 million retractable roof on Centre Court has been built in time for the 2009 Championships, marking the first time in the tournament's history that rain will definitely not stop play on that court.
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The All England Club tested the new roof on May 17 this year, with exhibition matches involving Andre Agassi, Tim Henman, Steffi Graff and Kim Clijsters.
But I think the new roof will detract from the atmosphere of Wimbledon, and will have a negative impact on the tournament.
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The unpredictability of Wimbledon is a large part of its appeal and charm.
Part of the anticipation is whether or not you, as a spectator, will get to watch a match to its conclusion, or whether the drops of rain in the air will get heavier and heavier, until the tarpaulin is dragged over the courts as you desperately will the sun to come out.
The new roof also wipes out any possibility of People's Sunday - that joyous occasion when play is extended to include the first Sunday of the tournament, and tennis fans have the opportunity to queue for a coveted ticket, knowing that all seats are up for grabs, with no tickets allocated through the ballot.
And what of the estimable Cliff Richard and his rousing rendition of Congratulations and other numbers to entertain undeterred spectators during rain-induced breaks in play?
And the Mexican waves by mac-clad spectators who refuse to allow the rain to dampen their spirits?
These unique elements of the Grand Slam tournament will become nothing more than treasured memories.
The new roof also presents a danger that Wimbledon will no longer be a daytime, outdoor event.
If it rains during a match and the roof is used, it will not be retracted during the match, even if showers are replaced by bright sunshine.
There are also plans to allow matches to continue until 11pm, in a bid for them to reach their conclusion.
The new retractable roof threatens to destroy the atmosphere of Wimbledon, which has been nurtured since the first match was held at the All England Club in 1877.
It is a relief that the club's chief executive, Ian Ritchie, has said "it would be tricky" to look at a roof on Number One Court.
However, he also said the club "wouldn't rule anything out in future," and he's sure "it'll be on the agenda but it's not a priority at the moment."
So it looks like it's only a matter of time before the tradition and atmosphere of Wimbledon is eroded even further.
The All England Club has already wasted �80 million of one new retractable roof, and it seems intent on throwing more money down the drain.