A safety-first Wimbledon was announced for the summer yesterday, with a reduction in both spectator numbers and creature comforts for the players.
The capacity has yet to be set, but it was confirmed that competitors will be confined to designated hotels with the likelihood of a hefty commute to the courts.
There will be limits on the size of entourages but, in what will be a relief to the likes of Serena Williams and Roger Federer, it seems that some allowances will be made for players who have children and partners, and wish to bring them.
Wimbledon fans will not be able to take part in the tournament’s iconic queue this summer
Organisers are preparing for a reduced amount of fans with Covid likely to impact attendance
Sportsmail revealed last week that staying in hotels will be compulsory, and it is now understood that one of those will be the Park Plaza close to Westminster Bridge.
Even outside rush hour that is likely to mean a journey time of minimally 35 minutes – very different to the leisurely stroll or quick hop enjoyed by those who usually stay close by in private housing.
Player associations will be consulted about entourages, but like the Australian Open there may be some flexibility: ‘Based on current government, public health and Tour guidance, we will need to limit the number of people that players are able to have in their designated support teams,’ said a spokesperson.
There will be no ballot this year and no queue, with those who were allocated tickets for 2020 being guaranteed the chance to buy the same seats for next year.
The All England Club will wait until June before launching online sales for this summer’s tournament, which begins on June 28. The hope is that they can get as many spectators in as possible, depending on prevailing government advice.
Ticket resales will also be banned with Wimbledon budgeting for a 30 per cent capacity
It will be a very different tournament this year, with players required to stay in official hotels
While the eventual number looks sure to be short of the normal 40,000 or so daily attendance, there could be an uplift on the approximate 30 per cent capacity that has been a rough working figure.
In a slight surprise, there are currently no plans to segregate the 13-acre site into restricted zones, as happened at last month’s troubled event in Melbourne. One early casualty is the veterans’ doubles event.
‘Although the promise of a return to a more normal existence is on the horizon, we are not there yet,’ said All England Chairman Ian Hewitt. ‘ As such, we have taken some key decisions in order to provide us with some certainty in our planning, and yet also to retain flexibility where we need it the most.’