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  Monday, 9 July, 2001, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Let there be lights
Rain stops play
If the rain stops, why not play at night under lights?
By BBC Sport Online's Andrew Warshaw at Wimbledon

The semi-final defeat of Tim Henman, which sent a nation into mourning, inevitably re-ignited the fierce debate about putting a sliding roof over Wimbledon's Centre Court.

Once again the roof argument has polarised the two halves of the debate.

Yet surely it is now time to stop the debate and think of another way to prevent players having to wait three days to finish a match.

Why? Because it is clear the All England Club is determined to protect its lush and precious grass.

So instead of a roof, why not lights? Less expensive but potentially effective.

Think about it. Floodlighting may do nothing to combat the elements. Rain delays would inevitably still occur.

But by installing lights around the Centre Court, the All England Club would be able to eliminate the problem of darkness and buy themselves some precious time.

Who would benefit? Just about everyone.

The fans would love it. Instead of play being suspended halfway through the evening even though the skies might have cleared, those who have paid good money would have a few extra hours to watch their heroes.

Take last week. If Wimbledon had lights, Henman would have been able to finish off Goran Ivanisevic in the semi-final when the Croat was at his most vulnerable.

Both on Friday and Saturday night, the drizzle relented as darkness fell.

Who knows, perhaps the schedule could have been completed on time, with the women's final Saturday night and men's final on Sunday?

Television companies would not have had to radically alter their schedules.

It happens at the Australian Open. It happens at the US Open. Both have lights. Both play into the night.

Wimbledon,with its reliance on tradition, may never give the idea a passing thought. But it should.

That way, we may never again have endure the three-day lottery forced on both Henman and Ivanisevic.

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09 Jul 01 | Wimbledon 2001
08 Jul 01 | Expert views
08 Jul 01 | Wimbledon 2001
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