Following this summer’s action-packed Wimbledon Championship, the All England Club and other organizers have officially announced a plan to push back the tournament’s start date beginning in 2015. That year, the world famous grand slam tournament will begin one week later, running from June 29 through July 12. High-profile stars like the former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal have pressured organizers in the past to extend the gap between the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships.
At this year’s Wimbledon, players continued expressing their support for an additional week between majors, and their efforts have been rewarded. According to Reuters, Philip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club, announced the decision last week on July 19, stating that the 2015 delay will give players “more time to recuperate and to adjust from the clay of Roland Garros to the grass at Wimbledon.”
The Chairman stated that “research indicates that there is widespread support within the game for extending the gap between the French Open and Wimbledon — we think most players will welcome the prospect of a longer grass court season and spending more time on the softer surface of grass.”
Brook and the All England Club believe that the change will “benefit the sport as a whole by creating a three-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon.” 2010 Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic expressed his concern to the Associated Press during this year’s tournament stating, “Logically speaking, it is the slowest surface that were talking about — clay — moving to the fastest one, which takes time.” The original two week gap has not provided players with a sufficient amount of time to adjust between surfaces, the added week will give players the ability to adapt their game to the new conditions.
Players have also complained that the current tennis season calendar does not allow them enough time for grass court play. Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt voiced his opinion telling the Associated Press that the “grass-court season has always been too short.” Currently, the grass-court season occupies only five weeks of the tennis calendar. Leaving the majority of calendar for clay and hard court, making the brief change to grass difficult for some.
The decision to delay the start of Wimbledon could open up the possibility of a longer grass season. An increase in time playing grass-courts before Wimbledon should make for even more exciting, fast-paced matches come the tournament.
Brook has acknowledged that the change in the Wimbledon schedule would mean some “important consequences for the overall tennis calendar,” according to Reuters — potentially shifting later tournament dates back. Discussing the altered schedule Brook told the Associated Press the change is a “vision of a tennis calendar that will better suit the needs of the modern day sport.”
Only time will tell whether these changes will prove truly benefical to players already accustomed to a rigid tennis schedule. Postponing the Wimbledon delay until 2015 should allow organizers to work out the necessary logistics.