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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 June, 2004, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Wimbledon hosts Sunday play
By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

The weather has made fans at Wimbledon miserable
Wimbledon will open its doors on the middle Sunday for only the third time in its history after persistent rain prevented any play on Saturday.

All England Club chief executive Chris Gorringe confirmed the news in an announcement on Centre Court.

Thousands are expected to queue for 'People's Sunday', the highlight of which will be Tim Henman's encounter with Hicham Arazi.

According to the Met Office forecast, there is a 40% chance of rain on Sunday.

Gorringe annnounced that there will be a reduced ground capacity as a security measure, with 11,000 tickets available for Centre Court at 35 each.

A further 10,000 people will be allowed onto Court One (30) and 7000 into the grounds (15).

Play will start at 1100 BST and tournament referee Alan Mills is hoping to complete all the singles third-round matches by the end of Sunday.

PEOPLE'S SUNDAY
Gates open at 0900 BST
Play starts at 1100 BST on all courts
One northerly queue from Southfields tube station
11,000 Centre Court tickets (35)
10,000 Court One tickets (30)
7000 ground passes (15)
Payment by cash only
Coverage on BBC2 from 1210 BST
Interactive coverage from 1100 BST

There are 12 third-round matches outstanding in the men's singles and 10 in the women's, along with countless doubles matches.

Mills admitted there is a chance the tournament will not be concluded by next Sunday.

"With no play Saturday we are 120 matches behind," he said.

"If we don't play this Sunday I think you'll find some of the women will have played Monday to Thursday with one day off between the semi-final and final.

"In this sort of championship that's asking too much. Most of the women play doubles, then there would be no chance of them finishing by the last Sunday."

The tournament was already behind schedule after no play was possible on Wednesday, only the 31st time in Wimbledon history that a day was completely washed out.

Play was due to start on Saturday at 1115 BST, but constant drizzle meant it was eventually abandoned at 1840 BST.

British fans did manage to catch sight of Henman on Saturday morning, as the British number one carried through the All England Club grounds.

Terrible weather forced play on the middle Sunday for the first time in 1991 and again six years later.

Henman was involved in the 1997 'People's Sunday', winning 14-12 in the fifth set of a memorable encounter with Paul Haarhuis.

Despite its popularity on those two occasions, Gorringe insisted there are no plans to make the day a permanent fixture in the SW19 calendar.

"Having a middle Sunday is not popular with the local neighbourhood because of parking restrictions," said the All England Club chief executive.

"People also like a day's rest and it is good to give the courts a break."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: All England Club chief Chris Gorringe



The BBC's Alex Bushill
"For die-hard fans, People's Sunday is worth it"




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