The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has detailed plans for this year’s Wimbledon Championships to go ahead with at least 25% capacity crowds, while the 2022 edition will see the tournament break with tradition by playing matches on the middle Sunday.
This year’s Wimbledon is due to take place from June 28 to July 11 and the AELTC said today (Tuesday) that the 25% capacity figure is based on current guidance from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA).
The AELTC will however remain flexible as it awaits the outcome of the government’s ongoing event research programme, which has so far seen a limited number of fans attend an FA Cup semi-final and the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
The UK government’s roadmap for reopening could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by June 21. The AELTC said it would await clarity on the likelihood of restrictions relaxing beyond this date.
AELTC chief executive Sally Bolton said: “We very much hope 25% is a minimum position from which we can build – it is our absolute desire to enable as many people as possible to safely attend The Championships this year.
“At the heart of our thinking is the intention to create the mix of spectators for which Wimbledon is known, while also working hard to protect the financial performance of The Championships, including the surplus that we deliver for the benefit of British tennis.”
Wimbledon has traditionally not held any matches on the middle Sunday of the tournament but this will change from next year to coincide with the centenary of Centre Court. The move will turn Wimbledon into a 14-day event.
AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt said: “Thanks to improved grass court technology and maintenance over the past five years or so and other measures, we are comfortable that we are able to look after the courts, most particularly Centre Court, without a full day of rest.
“This provides us with the opportunity, at an important time, to enhance the accessibility, reach and fan base of Wimbledon, and tennis, both in the UK and globally. It will also ensure greater resilience and fairness of the tournament programme for our competitors and enable us to create a different kind of atmosphere on the Middle Sunday, with a strong focus on the local community in particular. To be able to launch this new tradition at the same time as celebrating the history of Centre Court in 2022 is something we look forward to immensely.”
The AELTC also provided an update on the public consultation process for the Wimbledon Park Project, which will look to unite the group’s landholdings either side of Church Road to deliver a new 8,000-seat show court. Plans for the expansion were outlined earlier this month and the AELTC hopes the court will be ready for play by 2030.
The AELTC will now seek the views of people who wish to share their feedback on the future of Wimbledon through a survey, which has launched today. Hewitt said the proposals represent an “enormous” opportunity for Wimbledon and will benefit the local community.
Wimbledon will return this year after the event was cancelled in 2020 for the first time since World War Two. The AELTC last week reported an operating profit of £40.5m (€46.6m/$56.3m) for the financial year ending July 31, 2020, in large part down to the insurance policy it had in place that covered the cancellation of last year’s event.
The AELTC reported turnover of just £3.81m for the year, compared to £292m in 2019. However, the £40.5m operating profit figure includes other income received from the insurance policy totalling £174m. Of this £174m, £17m has been deferred to the current financial year, with a final claim amount yet to be agreed with the insurers.