Wimbledon head groundsman Neil Stubley has explained that the low sun in late summer makes it impossible to play Wimbledon at a later date. Like many other sports events, Wimbledon was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In late summer the sun gets lower in the sky,” Stubley explained. “Then the dew point on the grass arrives earlier, and the courts get slippery. The window for play becomes shorter at both ends. As much as it would be lovely to be able to play in late summer and autumn, it’s not possible.”
Stubley points out that Wimbledon cannot be compared to a Davis Cup match. “It’s true that we have staged Davis Cup matches in September. But play would start at 11.30am or noon and finish by 5pm. Whereas, at The Championships, you’re going from 11am until 9pm every day. To get through 670 matches over 13 days is a challenge in the height of summer, let alone at other times of the year.”
As chief court-keeper at the All England Club, he takes great pride in the famous lawns of SW19, and admitted to feeling “deflated” after Wednesday’s confirmation that the Grand Slam would be pulled from the calendar for the first time since World War II.
“One of the beauties about my job is that I get to showcase my work to the world every year,” he said. “When the eyes of the world are looking to how Centre Court is for that first day of The Championships, it’s always a nervous moment. It will be a funny feeling, through June and July, not to have that adrenalin rush.”
But while Wimbledon has been wiped from the calendar, the French Open has shifted to later in the year and US Open organisers are pressing ahead with plans to stage the final Grand Slam of the year as scheduled in late August.