Wimbledon will permanently ditch the event’s traditional middle Sunday day of rest from next year in a move that should net them around £10 million extra revenue each year.
The All England Club yesterday announced a raft of reasons for a shift which signals the end of Manic Monday, when all fourth-round singles matches used to be crammed into the programme.
Among them were improvements to grass-court technology, and a desire to maximise the fortnight’s exposure and reduce the threat of bad weather to the overall schedule.
Wimbledon’s traditional rest day on middle Sunday of Grand Slam will be scrapped from 2022
After two years of reduced revenue — cushioned by a £180 m insurance payout from 2020 — money was not put forward as a motive. Yet the move will swell the coffers in the long term.
With around 40,000 extra ticket sales, plus additional hospitality and merchandising and more to offer broadcastSers, it should bring in minimally £5m-10m per year going forward. Rain brought about Sunday play in 1991, 1997, 2004 and 2016 but it will now be a permanent feature.
‘We consider that it’s in the best interests of the tennis fans and the sport that Wimbledon should be available to be watched and attended throughout that middle weekend,’ said All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt. ‘It will enhance the viewership both in the UK and globally.’
The loss of this distinguishing feature from the three other Grand Slams is unlikely to bother the players, who are used to it elsewhere.
Wimbledon is currently the only Grand Slam that has a day off during the fortnight
More aggravating for them are likely to be restrictions related to the Covid-19 bubble in 2021. One contentious issue for the top stars will be limiting entourages to three team members or guests, although there might be some leeway for those with children.
As with many aspects of this year’s event, from crowd numbers to mask-wearing requirements, the event’s chief executive Sally Bolton said it would be down to the Government’s Covid policy.
She admitted the lack of freedom could grate with some competitors, saying: ‘Inevitably for the players there will be some frustration but I think they understand what tournaments are trying to achieve in keeping the sport moving and they’re buying into these environments to continue to go about their jobs.’
Prize money will also depend on how many people are allowed in and clearly there is the ambition to increase the approximate 10,000 per day currently envisaged. Online sales will replace, temporarily, the traditional ballot.
‘The reduced capacity means that we are not able to offer tickets as widely as possible to those who want to attend,’ added Hewitt. ‘But we are working hard to be as fair as we can and create a mix of spectators.’
Wimbledon fans will be able to get tickets for an extra day’s play from 2022 with no rest day