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Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 15:26 UK

Wimbledon set for late finishes

Event: Wimbledon's Centre Court Celebration Date: Sunday, 17 May Coverage: Live on BBC Two from 1530-1700 BST, Red Button and BBC Sport website from 1430-1800 BST


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See how Centre Court looks with the roof closed

By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Wimbledon could see play continue until as late as 2200 BST and beyond this year with the introduction of a roof over Centre Court.

After two years of construction work, the roof will be available for use at the Championships for the first time when the tournament begins on 22 June.

Floodlights have been fitted, meaning bad light will no longer be a factor.

The All England Club will schedule matches in the same manner as 2008, but with no cut-off time for play to end.

"We could finish after 10 o'clock in the evening," said club chairman Tim Phillips.

"The scheduling will still be the same as an outdoor day-time event, but there is no absolute cut-off time."

606: DEBATE

He added: "Once a match has started with the roof closed, that match would continue and would complete with the roof closed.

"It means that any Centre Court match, once started, ought to be able to finish."

Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Club, said: "We'd prefer to play outdoors. If we can, we would prefer to keep the roof open as much as possible.

Looking down on Centre Court's new roof

"But, if we start with it shut, we will finish with it shut. The opening and closing is at the discretion of the referee, as at other Grand Slams."

Tournament referee Andrew Jarrett will consider the weather conditions at around 45 minutes before play is due to start and then decide whether to start play with the roof closed.

The roof will take 8-10 minutes to close and a further 20-30 minutes is required for the air management system to create the correct conditions.

While the roof is being deployed, the existing court covers will be pulled across the playing surface.

A test event for the new roof involving Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters will take place on 17 May.

Roof will improve atmosphere - Henman

The rebuilt Centre Court has an increased capacity of 15,000 from 13,800, while a new 4,000-capacity Court Two will also open for the first time, taking the total ground capacity up to 40,000 spectators.

Wimbledon also confirmed that the total prize money on offer has increased by 6.2% to £12.55m, with the men's and women's singles champions collecting £850,000 each - an increase of 13.3% on last year.



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see also
Stars set for Wimbledon roof test
24 Feb 09 |  Tennis
Centre Court roof set for trial
16 Dec 08 |  Tennis
US Open set to approve roof plan
07 Sep 08 |  Tennis
Firm wins 1m Wimbledon roof deal
01 Jun 08 |  South west
Wimbledon's roof: The lowdown
06 Jan 04 |  Tennis
Wimbledon to build roof
06 Jan 04 |  Tennis


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