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Centre Court roof

Facts about the roof

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(a)   The moving roof weighs 1,000 tonnes and covers 5,200 square metres.  The folding fabric concertina design is in two sections.  The fabric is strong, flexible and translucent to help provide light and an airy feel.  The height of the roof from the ground is 16 metres.

(b)  The roof has been designed to maintain pre-existing levels of light and air to the court when the roof is open, and when closed, an air flow system removes condensation from within the bowl to provide good court surface conditions conducive to the playing of tennis.

(c)   The roof will take between 8–10 minutes to close and in addition, a further 20–30 minutes for the air management system to create the correct conditions. In total, therefore, it will take 30–40 minutes from starting the covering process to the court being available for play. Because of the time taken to close the roof, the existing Centre Court covers will be deployed as soon as it starts to rain.

(d)  Although the roof is translucent, lighting is installed within the roof and will come on automatically when the roof is closed. These lights require approximately 10 minutes to cool down prior to commencing the opening operation. It will then take the 8–10 minutes for the roof to open, i.e. in total a period of up to 20 minutes until the court is ready for play. The lighting in the roof is designed to meet the lighting levels required by high definition television.

(e)  The roof can safely be deployed in wind conditions of up to 43 mph (69 kph) 

(f)    Planning constraints require play to finish no later than 11.00pm, regardless of the score.

Protocol for use of the roof

These basic principles will govern the use of the roof:

(a)   The Championships is an outdoor daytime event. Therefore, in good weather, the roof will only be used if it is too dark to play on without it. 

(b)  The Referee has ultimate control over use of the roof and his decision is final. 

(c)   Timings of scheduled play on Centre Court in 2012 are intended to be on the same basis as 2011. This includes the number of matches and the likely timing of those matches to be put on the court. There can be many different circumstances which will govern the opening and the closing of the roof, hence the ultimate control of the Referee. That said, the following may be useful guidelines:

  • Best efforts will be made to start play each day with the roof open. However, 45 minutes before the start of each day’s play, the Referee will decide if the first match will start with the roof open or closed.
  • If a match is suspended due to rain, the normal covers will first be deployed, before the roof is closed, and the match continued. Due to the change in playing conditions, players will get a full warm-up on returning to court. If the projected interruption is sufficiently brief, as determined by the Referee, the normal covers will be used and play then continued with the roof open.
  • The Referee will decide to open or close the roof before the start of each subsequent match 
  • Any match originally scheduled for Centre Court will normally be completed if possible and if necessary the roof closed for reasons of rain or light.  Any matches added to the original schedule may be stopped without the deployment of the roof at the discretion of the Referee.
  • Changes to the order of play, including moving a match from another court onto Centre Court, may be authorised in exceptional circumstances in the best interests of completing The Championships on schedule.
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