On Sunday, May 17, ESPN Classic and broadband ESPN360.com will televise live “A Centre Court Celebration,” the first tennis to be played under the new retractable roof on Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court. The three-and-one-half-hour uninterrupted and continuous telecast will begin at 9:30 a.m. ET and will include four players:
— the husband and wife team of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, who combined for eight Wimbledon singles titles (one and seven, respectively);
— Kim Clijsters, the former top-ranked player and 2005 US Open champ who recently announced she will return to play this summer after retiring in 2007;
— and Tim Henman, the Brit who thrilled and tantalized the local fans by reaching the Wimbledon semifinals and quarterfinals four times each before retiring in 2007.
The action will include a gentlemen’s singles match, a ladies’ singles match, and mixed doubles. All matches will be one set, with a tiebreaker. The telecast will be produced by the BBC, with Andrew Castle and former notable British tennis player John Lloyd on the call.
Three years in the making, the new roof and air management system will be tested in front of a capacity crowd of 15,000. The old overhang roof on Centre Court was removed after Wimbledon in 2006. The 2007 tournament was played with no roof over the stands and the 2008 event was played with the new overhang in place and the retractable roof installed but not operable. The new roof takes up to 10 minutes to close, unfolding from each end and meeting in the middle, and requires an additional 30 minutes for the internal environment to be stabilized before play may resume. Being translucent, the roof allows natural light onto the grass playing surface. In addition, the redesigned Centre Court now has an additional 1,500 seats, bringing capacity to 15,000.
Wimbledon’s New Centre Court Roof, By the Numbers
8 Litres per second of fresh air per person pumped into the bowl to manage the environment
9 Chiller units required to cool the air
10 Minutes (maximum) that the roof takes to close
10 Trusses holding up the roof
16 Metres — height of the roof above the court surface
30 Minutes — maximum time expected before play can start/continue after the roof is closed and the internal environment is controlled and stabilised
43 Miles per hour — wind speed up to which the roof can be deployed/retracted
77 Metres — the span of the moving roof trusses (width of football pitch = 68m)
70 Tonnes — weight of each of the 10 trusses without extra parts
100 Tonnes — weight of each of the 10 trusses with all extras — eg motors, locking arms
100 Percent of the roof’s fabric which is recyclable
214 MM per second — maximum speed of truss deployment
1,200 Extra seats installed in 2008
3,000 Tonnes — combined weight (both fixed and moving) of the roof
5,200 Square metres, area of retractable roof when fully deployed
7,500 Wimbledon umbrellas, needed to cover the same area as the retractable roof
15,000 Maximum spectator capacity
143,000 Litres per second — total amount of conditioned air that the air-management system supplies to the bowl
290 million Tennis balls — number that could fit in the Centre Court with the roof closed
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