The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wanted, a roof at Wimbledon

Halle: Day one at Wimbledon and a huge crowd gathers at the world’s most famous tennis tournament. It rains. All day. Everyone goes home.

The unpredictable British weather is the bane of players and spectators alike during Wimbledon fortnight, but if the organisers were to follow the example of a small grasscourt tournament in Germany, their problems could be solved.

The Halle Open began in 1993. It attracted Pete Sampras in 2002 while Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Yevgeny Kafelnikov have also played there.

Why' Because of its retractable roof.

Frank Hofen, the Halle Open media director, said the tournament’s reputation is largely based on its roof. “It was necessary for the success because you can guarantee matches for the television schedulers.

“Players know there will be matches played, despite the weather. You can’t guarantee good weather in this region.”

There are those who say building a roof over Centre Court at Wimbledon would be close to sacrilege.

Hofen agrees public sentiment could be a problem. But he also says one roof would not be enough.

“You have juniors, seniors, veterans matches at Wimbledon, so you would need four or five to make it succeed.”

Others argue that a roof would not allow the grass to grow properly, depriving it of the light and fresh air it needs.

Halle, which took 10 months to build the roof over its centre court, is considering building another over Court One.

“I was surprised when Wimbledon built their new Court One that they didn’t put a roof on it. It’s much more difficult to build a roof afterwards.

In 2002, when rain hit the championships, Wimbledon officials admitted for the first time they were “seriously investigating the possibility” of building a roof over Centre Court.

Whether they ever get round to do it, of course, is another matter. Until then, bring your umbrella.

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