Wimbledon organisers have defended claims by some players that the courts – especially the outside courts – are not in the best of standards and quality with some of them slipping and sliding in their matches. The organisers have said that the courts are playing as well as ever and there is nothing unusual. Conditions this year have been hotter than usual and the dry air has resulted in the grass not staying its usual lush, green self.
World number one Andy Murray spoke on Friday of “almost like little divots” appearing on Centre Court with French player Kristina Mladenovic being more vocal in her criticism of Court 18 where she said she was happy to come out without injury despite the loss. It came hours after American Bethanie Mattek-Sands seriously injured her knee on Court 17.
With no rain in the first week and no interruptions to speak of, All England club chairman Richard Lewis stressed on the importance of the traditional rest day in the middle of the tournament (Sunday in Wimbledon’s case), when the courts are tended to further. “One of the things this year has proved is the value of middle Sunday. That when you have a full schedule of play and very good weather the courts benefit from a rest,” he told reporters.
Groundstaff have also taken extra steps to protect the turf from the blazing sun, including closing the Centre Court roof before play on Friday, and the courts were now playing as well as ever. “We are very happy with the courts. We are 100 percent confident in them…,” Lewis said. “I had a look at Centre Court yesterday and I think it was as good as I have ever seen it.”
So are the players’ complaints unjustified? “We respect the players’ views. Players in the heat of battle will have their views,” said Lewis. In the end all we can go by is what we go by every year. The groundstaff have won awards over the years, there is a reason for that … I haven’t seen many players slipping… I haven’t seen many players fall” this year.