© Ella Ling

Wimbledon shot

Wimbledon: it's a myth that the grass is slower


Eddie Seaward, the head groundsman at the All England Club, has told The Tennis Space that it is myth that the grass courts at Wimbledon are slower than they used to be. “I don’t think the grass has slowed down – the ball still comes off the grass at the same speed.” What has changed, said Seaward, is that the ball now bounces a little higher and that helps when you are trying to return a 140mph serve. 
Seaward on the speed of the court: “I don’t think the grass has slowed down. The ball still comes off the grass at the same speed. But, as the courts are a bit harder, the ball bounces a bit higher. The courts are a bit harder because of the grasses we use, and also because we prepare them that way. We wanted the hardness because we wanted the courts to be in just as good shape on day 13 as one day one, and that’s what we’ve got. If the ball comes at you at knee height at 140mph, you’ve got no chance or returning it. If it comes at you at chest height, you’ve got much more chance of getting the ball back into play. That’s why we’re getting the rallies.”
Seaward on the balance of power in tennis: “I came here in 1990 as head groundsman designate, and took over in 1991, and everyone then was saying that the serve was too dominant. Everyone was saying that grass-court tennis was finished, because it was just about the big serve. So we spoke to the players and coaches and said, ‘what do you want?’ And they said, ‘well, if you can slow the ball down by one tenth of a second, that would help’. That just shows how quick their reactions are, that that would make a difference.”
Seaward on feedback from the players: “You always feel a certain amount of pride out of that. The best bit is when we look at the courts on day one and say, ‘yes, we’ve done that’. It’s always nice to get on the court at the end of day one and see that it’s going to survive a fortnight. We’ve had a lot of positive comments over the years. We meet the players occasionally when they’re practising as they’re more relaxed then. We talk to the coaches. The coaches and players seem to be happy. When a player finishes a match, no matter what court they’re on, they are met by a member of the committee, or someone from the club, and at that stage they have the opportunity to make a formal complaint about the court. We haven’t had a complaint about any of the courts in the last eight years.”

  • Anonymous

    fucking bastard

  • Melodymaster73

    The higher bounce allows for more time to react, so the ball has a slower perceived movement compared to the past. The argument made now is not that the ball moves slower; it is that the ball seems slower because reaction time has increased. The low bounces mean less reaction time and thus easier winners. That translates to less rallies and faster matches, hence the term a “fast” court.

  • Marcia

    Please, just take a look at this video. Of course the courts became slower, since 2006!!!

    You have the same serve (RF), that goes with the same speed, but arrive much later. 

  • JimF

    BBC TV did a video comparing identical Federer serves from 2002 and 2008, which showed that after the bounce Fed’s serve not only was nearly a foot higher but 10 MPH slower. 

    There’s concrete visual, statistical evidence. 

  • Filippo

    What has been done at the championship looks as a substantial disaster. 
    Regardless whatever you can say there is no doubt that today Wimbledon is not anymore a friendly territory for talented players in the classical term, but an war-field similar to Paris for muscular fighters.The fact the some players are more relaxed does not mean that the good for the game has been achieved.I find this interview extremely disappointing as a profound tennis fan and old player.

  • Mara5881

    We don’t care if the courts are slower or not, what we care about is the horrible kind of tennis that we’re watching right now ! You want to create Robots , really ! So the balls are slower, maybe not the courts , that man is just trying to avoid the real question ! Where is technique ??? Players can return what they want since the game became so slow, so who wins ? Well , the player who is the most robot-like ! He’s supposed to organize a GRASS tournament, why does he want to change the surface ? I mean, what’s the point saying Wimbledon is on grass when you can change every factor ? Can i ask what are the specificity of grass ? I can’t see it anymore. This is pathetic.

  • Mara5881

    I’m 23 by the way, so i’m not old and i’m your best audience. So if you want to get more money because “longer rallies are better to watch”, you’re totally wrong. Tennis has became more popular over the years, it’s “natural”, not because of the surfaces.Great players promoted the game (Borg, Sampras, Agassi, Federer) BEFORE the game was slowed down that much. That’s why so many people are watching today. Because people got more and more curious. Now, you’re just disgusting some tennis fans and showing some curious new tennis specators that tennis is just like boxing. You could do great things, and instead of that, you’re destroying the sport. Where are young, technical players? Not in the top 50, and maybe one or to in the top 100. The luckier of them will have to play challengers. Why ? Because they made the mistake to play tennis instead of bodybuilding !

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1179632131 Strick Harris

    You all sound like a bunch of babies here, the top players can do anything on a court now. i’d rather watch thought out rallies than some guy blasting away boring serves. Probably a bunch o federer fans who cant handle the demise. Christ Nadal is a better net player than fed n that comes from Mcenroe.

  • Mike

    Strick Harris: “babies”, “Christ Nadal”, obviously you sound more like the baby here. And an angry baby. To me, you’re just a blind guy who knows very little about tennis. Nadal is never taking risks to come to the net, he just comes when there’s a shorter ball. So his stats might be better. McEnroe said that once, that’s true but many other tennis players (Wilander, Leconte etc.) said that it was false. Moreover, Mcenroe underlined that Nadal was now a better net player, but that was mostly because Federer wasn’t focusing on that part of his game anymore. McEnroe said a lof of “mean” things about Djokovic, Nadal and other players, the fact that you’re taking him as a reference says a lot about your ignorance. Nadal fans are always saying that “fast surfaces are boring and blablabla”, Federer fans that “slow surfaces are boring blablabla”, but a lot of people actually think that what is really boring is the standardisation. Now, every surface is the same. So people can enjoy long rallies. But people also enjoy variety, winners, and technique. That’s why there are different surfaces. Grass was supposed to be the quickest surface, but now, it’s slower than hardcourts. This is the real problem. But you just see everything black and white, so don’t think your comment was intelligent.