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Grass courts

Staff and Courts

Grounds staff
  • Head Groundsman - Neil Stubley.
  • 16 permanent ground staff. Total of 28 for the period of The Championships.
  • 19 Championships grass courts.
  • 22 grass practice courts.
  • 8 American Clay courts
  • 5 indoor courts, two Greenset Velvelux and three Greenset Trophy
The Grounds are owned by the All England Lawn Tennis Ground plc, and the total area, including the Club's car parks, covers over 42 acres with capacity for 38,500 spectators.

Apart from the grass courts, the courts are used all year round by the Club members and LTA-sponsored players. The grass courts are in play from May to September (except Centre Court and other Show Courts which are used only for The Championships). The courts are lent to a number of clubs and organisations, mainly of a national character, for the staging of various events.

In 2014... 

- 654 matches played
 
- 3177 total hours played on all 41 grass courts of The Championships

- 54 million grass plants on Centre Court (rough calculation according to a formula)
 
- 77 total hours played on Centre Court 

The grass

  • The grass plant itself has to survive in this dry soil. Expert research has again shown that a cut height of 8mm (since 1995) is the optimum for present day play and survival.
     
  • Courts are sown with 100 per cent Perennial Ryegrass (since 2001) to improve durability and strengthen the sward to withstand better the increasing wear of the modern game.
     
  • Independent expert research from The Sports Turf Research Institute in Yorkshire, UK, proved that changing the grass seed mix to 100 per cent perennial ryegrass (previously 70 per cent rye/30 per cent creeping red fescue) would be the best way forward to combat wear and enhance court presentation and performance without affecting the perceived speed of the court.
     
  • Perceived speed of a court is affected by a number of factors such as the general compacting of the soil over time, as well as the weather before and during the event.
     
  • The ball will seem heavier and slower on a cold damp day and conversely lighter and faster on a warm dry day.
     
  • The amount a ball bounces is largely determined by the soil, not the grass. The soil must be hard and dry to allow 13 days of play without damage to the court sub-surface.
     
  • To achieve the required surface of even consistency and hardness, the courts are rolled and covered to keep them dry and firm. Regular measurements are taken to monitor this.
     
  • There have been no changes to the specification of the ball since 1995, when there was a very minimal alteration in compression.

How to grow a grass court

It takes around 15 months to prepare a Championships’ standard court before it can be played on. 

This is the process:

  • The courts are constructed and seeded in April
     
  • The courts will then be cut once the new grass reaches 15mm, and then cut three times a week in May to keep at 15mm
     
  • During The Championships the height of grass will be 8mm, it will be cut every day
     
  • For the remainder of the summer the courts will only be cut three times a week and watered as they need to mature and naturally firm up
     
  • At the end of summer six tonnes of soil will be put on each court to make sure the playing surfaces are level
     
  • In the spring of 2015 Courts 14 and 15 will be included into the pre-Championships programme of grass court preparation
     
  • The height of cut will be reduced from their winter height of 13mm to the playing height of 8mm, this starts in March and will be ready for Members’ day in May
     
  • In early May we put the white line markings on the courts
     
  • During the playing season the grass is cut every other day
     
  • The courts will get rolled once a week in May with a one-tonne roller to firm the surface so that it is ready to play on
     
  • In June we start to restrict the amount of water we put on the courts, this also helps firm the surface
     
  • During The Championships we cut the courts and mark out the lines every day
     
  • We put a little bit of water on the courts at night during The Championships to help the grass survive 

Court maintenance

  • Nine tonnes of grass seed is used each year.
     
  • All courts re-lined, rolled and mown daily during The Championships.
     
  • Court wear, surface hardness and ball rebound are all measured daily.
     
  • All courts renovated in September.

Lines and dimensions

  • Total area of grass on each of Centre and No.1 Courts is 41m x 22m.
     
  • Singles Court is length 23.77m (78’) x width 8.23m (27’).
     
  • Doubles Court is length 23.77m (78’) x width 10.97m (36’).
     
  • Paint is not used to mark the lines on the court. A transfer wheel marker is used to apply a white compound (500 gallons used yearly) containing titanium dioxide to make it durable.
     
  • All the lines are 50mm wide, except the baselines, which are 100mm.

Court covers

  • All courts have been provided with covers since 1971.
     
  • Centre Court’s cover weighs 1 ton and takes 17 people approx 22-28 seconds to cover the court. Made from a translucent material, the cover allows a greater amount of light to the grass. Air ventilation under the cover is aided by four large fans (two at either end).
     
  • 160 court coverers.
     
  • Trained two weeks prior to The Championships – approx timings 22-28 seconds.
     
  • Removing the umpire’s chair with umpire still sitting in it introduced in 2001.
     
  • Centre/No.1 teams: 17 people to cover the court, two to remove the nets, two to remove umpire/linespersons chairs.
     
  • All outside courts have six court coverers.
     
  • Courts are covered at Chair Umpire’s discretion.
     
  • Referee inspects a court once the covers are taken off and before the court is dressed with the net etc. Decision on timing of process made by the Head Groundsman or Referee.
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