Wimbledon 2007

DIDN’T I say we’d make it a date?
Some 50 weeks ago, I took my leave of Wimbledon after a magical fortnight.
Now, as promised, I’m back at the All England Club to do it all over again.
Some things don’t change.
The press centre – home from next week to over 800 journalists from around the world – looks pretty much as I left it.
I’ve got the same desk, just a few steps away from the main players’ interview room.
And the rain is pouring down, in between spells of hot sunshine.

But there is one big change which, I suspect, will be quite a shock for many, either coming here in person or watching on TV.
As you can see, Centre Court is without a roof for the first time in its 85-year history.
It’s part of the three-year project to install a new retractable roof in time for the 2009 Championships.
It means the historic court is currently transformed into an open bowl.
Previously hidden seats in the shade under the roof are now exposed to the elements, while the high level commentary boxes are visible to all.
Two screens have also been put in place to show spectators the results of player challenges under the new Hawk-Eye electronic ball tracking system.

Staff were still busy today applying the final touches to the arena before the first spectators come through the gates at 10.30am on Monday.
But Centre Court looks what it is – an unfinished work in progress.
Tonight’s London Evening Standard has other concerns, with the front page headline: “Wimbledon Sniper Fear”.
It claims the roofless Centre Court has left VIPs in the royal box (above) in direct line of fire from the roof of two nearby blocks of flats.
I’d be more worried about being in direct line of fire from the sun and rain.

Will Andy Murray play? He’s due here tomorrow to talk to the media, along with Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova.
This afternoon I took a walk around and spotted John McEnroe dashing off court to avoid a sudden downpour.
And the forecast for next week? Unsettled, with rain or showers.
Well, it is Wimbledon.

Wimbledon 2006 blogs
Parting Shots
Raising The Roof
Wimbledon Official Site
BBC Wimbledon Weather