Monday saw the start of the annual Wimbledon Championships, the world’s oldest, most prestigious tennis tournament. Having been held at the All England Club in south-west London since 1877, it is the only of the four Grand Slams still played on grass.
Long daylight hours mean plenty of time for matches, with outside play sometimes continuing beyond 9.30pm.
Nevertheless, inclement weather has been an integral part of Wimbledon throughout its history, with only seven rain-free tournaments since 1922, the most recent being 2009 and 2010.
Although no wetter on average than most other months, rain/showers can be expected on nearly one in every two days in late June/early July in south-east England and grass can become slippy and unplayable even with just a sprinkle of drizzle.On those all too common British summer days of sunshine and showers, this can mean some disjointed play, with rain delays soon leading to a large back-log of matches.
The recent addition of a roof to centre court has significantly helped matters though, and with a roof now planned for number 1 court as well, in the future, even the wettest tournaments should end on time.
Rain played a pivotal part in 2001, when Britain’s Tim Henman was 2-1 sets up in his semi-final against wildcard Croatian Goran Ivanisevic. After several rain delays, Henman, having at one stage been only two points from victory, went on to lose.
Ivanisevic also won the final, played a day late on the Monday, thanks to the numerous rain delays over the previous week.
Completed in 2009, the centre court roof was first used for a final in 2012, when a particularly wet, miserable day forced the latter sets to be played ‘indoors’, to the detriment of loser Andy Murray. In contrast, his victory in last year’s final, was one of the hottest days of 2013, with temperatures climbing to an uncomfortable 28C.
As for this year, our recent fine weather will slowly crumble over the next few days with heavy showers threatening Aylesbury Vale and Wimbledon by Friday, although the risk of showers should then slowly recede again over the weekend.