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Qualifying begins: 26 June

The Draw: 30 June

Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July

Order of Play: 2 July

Championships begin: 3 July


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Saturday, 2 July 2016 22:36 PM BST
The Preview: Middle Sunday
History beckons as Wimbledon opens its doors on Middle Sunday for only the fourth time READ MORE

Follow the latest news and scores from Wimbledon 2016 on or Apple TV,  or download the official IOS or Android apps for smartphone and tablet

A warm welcome to Wimbledon’s Middle Sunday, a sporting phenomenon that has occurred just four times in 139 years and one that might just enable you to relate mistily in years to come: “Ah, I was there…”

It’s a quarter of a century since a wretched first week’s weather prompted the All England Club to experiment with throwing open its doors on its traditional rest day on a first come, first served basis and it resulted in one of the great days of British sport, with an outpouring of spontaneous enthusiasm from crowds who turned SW19 into carnival central.

A tenner got you onto Centre Court if you joined the one-and-a-half mile queue. It was a day of Mexican waves, umpires as pantomime villains (boo!!) and players as heroes (hurrah!). When Jimmy Connors did his warm-up, the jokey crowd counted his every stroke until getting a bit bored. “What’s the matter? Can’t you count past 10?” Jimbo teased them - and the laughter started all over again.

If we thought this People’s Day was a one-off, never-to-be-repeated delight; we were wrong. In 1997, we were back again after the wettest first week in Wimbledon annals to be rewarded with Tim Henman’s epic win against Paul Haarhuis - 14-12 in the fifth - amid cheers and screams so loud that dear old Tim swore he was at Wembley Stadium.

So to 2004, the only other time that the rains forced this Sunday splash. Serena Williams was one who lit up Centre Court that day, overpowering Spain’s Magui Serna, and she could only reflect afterwards: “It was more fun and more live and more real - people just out there screaming and enjoying the tennis. I really, really liked that atmosphere.”

Well, guess what? Twelve years on, Serena is again the star of Super Sunday IV. All 22,000 tickets for today were sold in 27 minutes on Saturday, and such was the demand, 110,000 could have been shifted.

The lucky Centre Court ticket recipients can now see the six-time champion take on Germany’s world No.43 Annika Beck, who knocked out Britain’s Heather Watson earlier this week, as well as No.6 seed Roberta Vinci, Williams’s conqueror in the US Open, up against American No.27 seed Coco Vandeweghe.

It would have been interesting to hear a Sunday crowd’s reaction to Serena’s “very, very, very angry” racket-smashing episode during her desperate struggle to subdue Christina McHale in the last round.

Perhaps we could still find out because, as she explained wryly afterwards, she hasn’t quite yet met her quota for racket-marmalising this season. “I try to crack a certain amount a year. I'm a little behind this year,” she observed.

Sloane Stephens, the American who has sometimes found that being hailed as ‘the new Serena’ can be a heavy burden, could set up a possible fourth round meeting with Williams but, first, must get past the considerable obstacle of two-time grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on No.1 Court.

The grounds will still be reverberating with the shock of the tame exit of the gentleman’s champion, Novak Djokovic, beaten on Saturday by big Sam Querrey. So, suddenly, opportunity appears to knock more urgently for those contenders still scrabbling around to make it to the second week, with six third round matches still to be decided, headed by Tomas Berdych’s meeting with the 19-year-old hot shot Alexander Zverev. The Centre Court does love a teenage German sensation, eh Boris, Steffi?

Then there’s the unfinished business between Nick Kyrgios and Feliciano Lopez on No.1 Court. Kyrgios looks a natural for today, just the sort of combustible and charismatic ball of fire who could be carried on the wave of Sunday emotion but the veteran Lopez, three times a quarter-finalist here, demonstrated his toughness by playing a consummate tie-break to level at one set-all on Saturday night.

Juan Martin del Potro’s fightback from his wrist injury woes has been one of the most uplifting tales of this Wimbledon but the adventure will be over if he cannot overhaul the two sets to one advantage currently held by France’s No.32 seed Lucas Pouille on Court 12.

The clock ticked past 9.15pm on No.2 Court on Saturday night as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, two sets down against John Isner, saved his 2016 Wimbledon by winning a third set tie-break. This is going to be great. With Isner having blasted down 91 aces and counting this tournament, let’s just call it Sunday Thuddy Sunday. Enjoy!

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