Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wimbledon Cover Up: Dinara Safina Wins Indoor Match [J. Mark English]

Photo Titled Centre Court roof

From Christopher Clarey of the New York Times:

There had already been thousands of points played at Wimbledon this year — millions more played through the years — but the point played on Centre Court by Dinara Safina and Amélie Mauresmo at 5:19 p.m. on Monday was unlike any that had come before it...

...It was not the pattern that made it unique: Mauresmo served and rushed the net, then hit a half volley, which Safina tracked down and smacked for a winner with a backhand passing shot down the line. What made it historic was the closed roof overhead. After nearly 90 years of rain delays on Centre Court, which was built in 1922, Wimbledon has finally created a way to keep the tennis coming.

And after a dry first week that had raised questions about whether the All England Club was going to start getting its big money’s worth, a light passage of rain gave the organizers an opening to start closing their expensive new toy: a 1,000-ton retractable structure with white trusses and flexible translucent panels.

It was not an obligatory move. Play soon resumed on the outside courts and the sun soon resumed shining. But the crowd at Centre Court, now part of tennis history itself, certainly appreciated the tournament referee Andrew Jarrett’s eagerness, roaring as the two halves of the roof began to move, then roaring again as they finally came together shortly before 5 p.m.

“Considering the English weather, I’m surprised it took them 87 years,” said Jonathan Spearing, a 31-year-old lawyer from London.

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