Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon is primarily used for The Championships, Wimbledon tennis tournament, which takes place for two weeks in late June and early July each year. Outside of those two weeks, Centre Court does host some other tennis matches and events, but its usage is limited in order to protect and maintain the grass surface.
When is The Championships, Wimbledon played?
The Championships, Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments and the only Grand Slam played on grass courts. It is held annually at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London. Wimbledon is played over two weeks in late June and early July, with the following schedule:
|Week 1||First Monday in July – Middle Sunday in July|
|Week 2||Middle Monday in July – Sunday in July|
For example, in 2023 Wimbledon will run from Monday July 3rd through Sunday July 16th.
The tournament features five main events: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. Matches are scheduled on 14 courts, including the iconic Centre Court.
When is Centre Court used?
Centre Court is primarily used during the two weeks of The Championships, Wimbledon each year. It hosts important matches in all five main draw events.
In the early days of Wimbledon, Centre Court was in constant use for regular tennis play. But as the prestige of the tournament grew, officials decided to limit access to the court in order to protect the condition of the grass.
Nowadays Centre Court stands idle most of the year. The AELTC only allows tennis to be played on Centre Court for about 3 months total each year. This preserves the pristine look and quality of the iconic lawn tennis court for The Championships.
Wimbledon Matches on Centre Court
During Wimbledon, Centre Court hosts matches in the main draws as well as some qualifying and junior matches:
– All singles matches from the quarterfinals onward for both men and women, as well as select earlier round matches involving top players
– Select doubles matches, including both singles semifinals, the women’s doubles final, and mixed doubles final
In addition, the opening day of The Championships has traditionally featured strong matchups and fan favorites to officially open Centre Court for the year.
Wimbledon Lead-up Events
In the weeks before Wimbledon begins each year, Centre Court opens for two grass court warm-up events:
– The Giorgios Cup: A one-day exhibition event held in mid-June that features former Wimbledon champions. It allows players to test the conditions on Centre Court ahead of The Championships.
– The Wimbledon Championships Qualifying Competition: A multi-day event held on Centre Court and Court 1 to determine some of the qualifiers for the main Wimbledon draw.
These events give players a chance to adjust to playing on grass, and give the courts a trial run before the major tournament starts.
Other Centre Court Events
While Centre Court is mostly associated with The Championships, Wimbledon, it does occasionally host some other tennis events and activities:
– Tennis Matches: The AELTC may organize exhibition matches, charity events, or other competitions on Centre Court outside of Wimbledon. For example, they’ve invited ATP Champions Tour players and wheelchair tennis athletes to play there.
– Spectator Events: Centre Court opens for ticket holders to have a chance to experience the court outside of the major tournament. Often this coincides with the AELTC Museum tours.
– Media/VIP Events: The famous court is used at times by the Club for special events, sponsor functions, media days, and hospitality.
– Test Matches: Before and after Wimbledon, the AELTC will schedule test matches on Centre Court to evaluate conditions and test any changes made in the offseason.
– Maintenance: Necessary work is done to maintain the grass surface, including mowing, watering, and replacement of worn areas.
Why is access to Centre Court restricted?
The AELTC strives to protect Centre Court for several important reasons:
Preserve the Playing Surface
– Grass courts deteriorate more quickly than other surfaces with constant play. Limiting access preserves the quality.
– The unique rye grass blend takes time to firm up after being planted. Too much play early on can damage the surface before Wimbledon starts.
Traditions and Prestige
– As the site of epic Wimbledon finals, Centre Court carries tradition and prestige. Allowing only minimal play outside the tournament preserves this special status.
– The pristine condition and familiar backdrop adds to the experience of playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Manage Wear and Tear
– Foot traffic, play, and other use adds up over time, shortening the life of the court. The AELTC wants Centre Court to endure.
– Restricting access gives them tighter control over the conditions and prevents overuse.
Focus on The Championships
– As the premier court for Wimbledon, Centre Court is meticulously prepared for those two weeks every year. Limiting other play helps keep the focus on The Championships.
– Special events and exhibits also revolve around Wimbledon, not general ticketed access.
Notable Features of Centre Court
Centre Court has been graced by iconic moments in tennis history since its first match in 1922. Some key features that make Centre Court unique include:
– The court surface consists of 100% perennial ryegrass specifically grown to meet the AELTC’s standards. It provides the perfect playing surface for Wimbledon.
– This exclusive seating area is reserved for members of the British Royal Family and other distinguished guests during The Championships.
– Installed in 2009, the retractable roof allows Centre Court matches to be played even in rainy weather.
– Centre Court can hold just over 15,000 spectators, the largest crowd capacity of any tennis stadium.
– Unique customs like the all-white dress code, grass courts, strawberries and cream, and royal patronage make Centre Court synonymous with Wimbledon.
In summary, access to the iconic Centre Court at the All England Club is highly restricted outside of the two weeks of The Championships, Wimbledon each year. This preserves the court’s grass surface and traditions, while allowing it to be showcased in pristine condition for the world’s preeminent tennis tournament. While Centre Court may host some additional tennis, events, and maintenance during the year, protecting the court for Wimbledon remains the AELTC’s top priority.