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Wimbledon outlines plans for 2012 London Olympic Games

By Piers Newbery

Wimbledon's Centre Court
Centre Court will be one of 12 courts to host Olympic matches at Wimbledon

Wimbledon officials are confident the grass courts will be fit to host the 2012 Olympic tennis event only 20 days after that year's Championships end.

The first details of the event have been released by the All England Club and London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog).

A total of 172 athletes will compete in five events over nine days with players allowed to wear non-white clothing.

Sessions will run from 1100 BST to about 2000 BST each day.

Tickets will go on sale next year with up to 26,000 spectators able to attend every day, a reduction from around 40,000 at the Wimbledon Championships because there will be fewer courts in use.

"I think there will be a great interest because Wimbledon is heavily over-subscribed every year and to some extent maybe it opens up a slightly different audience," said All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie.

"We are enormously supportive of this but it is not the Championships at Wimbledon, it is a different event and it is meant to have its own approach. The idea was never to have a repeat of Wimbledon, this will have its own mark."

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The final programme of events has yet to be decided but the provisional plan is for the tennis to be spread across nine days of competition between 28 July and 5 August.

With singles draws of 64 players and doubles draws of 32 players, there will be fewer competitors than the 300 involved at the Championships every year.

Matches will played on 12 courts including Centre, Court One and Court Two, with the new Court Three used for warming-up, and they will be played over the best-of-three sets, except for the men's singles final which will be best of five.

Eddie Seaward, the head groundsman at the All England Club, has already carried out tests on re-seeding the grass where necessary immediately after this year's Championships.

Rafael Nadal
Nadal won Olympic gold for Spain in Beijing

"Right from the beginning of being involved in the bid we knew that this was where there was going to be a big consultation with our ground staff, and we always felt pretty confident about it," said Ritchie.

"This year we decided to do a very small test on the Centre Court, so you're talking about a handful of people, but the principles are the same.

"The interesting thing now is that most of the wear on the courts is at the baseline outside the actual playing surface, so where the ball bounces is hardly affected, so we don't believe it will interfere with the play at all."

And with players wearing national team colours and the grounds decked out in Olympic and commercial branding, Wimbledon is set to look very different just three weeks after the Championships.

"There will be an Olympic overlay and there will be a unique feel across all of our venues, so when you're watching it you will very much know that you are watching Olympic tennis at Wimbledon," said Debbie Jevans, Locog's director of sports and venues.

It has yet to be decided whether the large screen on the Aorangi Park Terrace - or Henman Hill - will show other Olympic sports, but the court surfaces will not have the Olympic rings marked on them.



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see also
Mixed doubles in Olympic line-up
10 Dec 09 |  Tennis
Nadal beats Gonzalez to take gold
17 Aug 08 |  Tennis
Dementieva secures singles gold
17 Aug 08 |  Tennis
Federer wins Olympic doubles gold
16 Aug 08 |  Tennis
Serena and Venus win doubles gold
17 Aug 08 |  Tennis


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