What's going on with the Wimbledon 2021 court? Why is it so slippery?
Serena Williams was forced to withdraw after injuring herself on the grass, and other players have been sliding around. But why?
Sliding around during a match is par for the course at the French Open, where the clay courts of Roland Garros reward players who slide into their shots.
But Wimbledon is a different beast, and it's rare to see too many falls on the grass, even though it can be slippery.
Something odd is happening at Wimbledon 2021 though, with players slipping and sliding all over the place, particularly on Centre Court. Top seed Novak Djokovic repeatedly found himself on the ground in his match against British wildcard Jack Draper and both Adrian Mannarino (playing against Roger Federer) and Serena Williams faced devastating early exits when slips left them injured and unable to compete.
So why is the finely manicured grass of SW19 proving so treacherous?
Watching Serena Williams withdraw, two-time champion Andy Murray took to Twitter to share his experience of playing on the same court on Monday. He called Centre Court "extremely slippy" and said it was "not easy to move out there". Hardly ideal for a surface hosting a prestigious tennis tournament.
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Meanwhile, Roger Federer, who has played on Centre Court more times than most, agreed with Murray. "You do have to move very, very carefully out there," he said. "I do think it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof. I don't know if it's just a gut feeling."
So what's going on? Obviously the conditions are not helping. It's been a drizzly Wimbledon so far, and the roof has been a odsend to fans, but it means the grass gets damper, the air is more humid and the slide hazard worsens.
This is certainly the reason the All England Club is giving for the disruption. "The weather conditions on the opening two days have been the wettest we have experienced in almost a decade, which has required the roof to be closed on Centre Court and Court One for long periods," they say.
"This is at a time when the grass plant is at its most lush and green, which does result in additional moisture on what is a natural surface. With each match that is played, the courts will continue to firm up."
But as we all know rather too well, this isn't the first time there's been rain at Wimbledon.
One explanation could be the fact that tournament was forced to miss a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. An incredible amount of effort is put into maintaining the grass at Wimbledon, with a series of cuts through the year achieving the precise grass height for a perfect surface (8mm per blade in case you were wondering). While the same dedication has gone into the upkeep, we've missed a year of play, which is a season of posh trainers pounding the grass. Perhaps that has made an impact?
Whatever the reason, let's hope the conditions improve and that no more players fall foul of the wet grass like Williams.
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