Five things about preparations for the Olympics at Wimbledon:
How it works
The Olympic tennis lasts nine days, as opposed to the 13 of The Championships. The contest comprises five medal events – men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles (which were last held in 1924). All matches will be the best of three sets with the exception of the men’s singles final, which will be the best of five. All mixed doubles matches will be resolved by a first-to-10 tie-break if they reach one-set all. Crowd capacity will be 26,000. Sessions will start at 11am and end at 8pm. The draw will take place at the Club on Thursday, 26 July 2012. Check the playing schedule at the London 2012 website.
Who does what
The All England Club will provide the venue and essential staff, such as courts and maintenance, but otherwise London 2012 will run the competition. The 168 ball boys and ball girls have been recruited via the Young Games Maker process, and are aged 16-17 and come from the London boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth. All ticketing will be handled by London 2012.
Everything’s gone purple
The most notable difference between a Championships and the Olympics will be the sight of the players in coloured clothing and the grounds will be similarly adorned in colourful on-site Olympic dressing/branding. The day after The Championships concluded, the iconic green canvases surrounding the courts were pulled down, and replaced with the London 2012 canvas, a purpley-pink colour with the London 2012 branding emblazoned across the back. It’s just the first step of the Locog-ification of the grounds, which will include Visa rather than HSBC and others. There’s no McDonalds though.
Having conducted two years of successful trials using pre-germinated seed – a process which accelerates germination – the Club is confident of returning the courts as close as possible to the same condition as before The Championships and of ensuring they will continue to play to the usual high standards.
To germinate the seed, the seed is placed in a large container and soaked in a warm-water solution. After two hours the water solution is drained. The seed and container are left in a warm room (40C) for 48 hours to ferment. Once the seed has reach germination point (with a visible white tip), it is removed from the container. To prepare the courts, the surfaces are watered to soften at the end of The Championships. The germinated seed is placed on the bare areas. Liquid fertiliser is sprayed over the court and seed. The whole court is covered for four days with a special germination sheet to stop the seed from drying out too quickly. The sheet is removed and – voila! – there will be 5mm grass plants on bare areas. The grass is watered, rolled and cut at 10mm height for 12 days prior to the start of the drying-out process, ready for the Olympics. White lines are repainted five days before the Games. The height of the grass is reduced to 8mm three days before the Olympics start.
What’s happening where
Centre, No.1, No.2, 18, 14 (television courts), 7, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17 and 19 will be used for matches. Courts 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 will be used for practice. The Aorangi practice courts will be used by the AELTC Members.