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No more rain delays at Wimbleton, they have a roof.

News - Sports Articles

When Roger Federer opened his quest for another Wimbledon title on Monday morning under gray skies, long-time tennis fans likely had flashbacks to past tournaments and players sloshing around the court in the rain. The weather wound up holding for Federer's match, a win over Yen-hsun Lee, but it wouldn't have mattered even if rain was falling in buckets.

We're in a new, weather-proof era for Wimbledon, after all.



From the day Centre Court was unveiled 87 years ago, players and fans were held hostage to Mother Nature. Last month, however, 15,000 people gathered to watch tennis' premiere tournament adapt with a new, translucent retractable roof that can be closed if weather turns for the worse.

It hasn't been needed yet, but one would think everyone -- players and the fans watching them live -- would welcome the dryness, especially after such recent rain-marred tournaments as the ones that took place in 2004 and 2007. But there's also a feeling of romanticism and tradition about the rain that might have people waxing nostalgic about the "good" ole days.
Rain delays "play on your mind, testing your mental resilience," the Australian player Pat Cash wrote in 2007. They can even come as a "blessed relief" when you are behind.

"I feel like I achieve clarity when it rains," Venus Williams said in 2007. Roger Federer once announced that the delay meant he had "played even better." In 2001, on the brink of losing a semifinal to Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic got a reprieve, a second wind and eventually a victory because of a sudden outburst of bad weather. It was the rain that did it, he declared, "God wanted me to win this game."

The roof will rob spectators and players of the chance to recreate some of the more memorable precipitation-related incidents from past summers. During a three-and-a-half-hour delay in 1996, the British pop star Cliff Richard grabbed a microphone and performed a medley of songs before the soggy and captive audience, backed by a clapping chorus line of players that included Virginia Wade, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.
Andy Murray struggled to think of something to say about the roof, finally coming up with the lukewarm, "It looks really nice, compared to most roofs." Consider that a glowing endorsement.

Whether you think progress and change are necessarily good or not, there's no hope in stopping it. The old Yankee Stadium will soon be memories, the golden era of the newspaper is no more, and Wimbledon now has some protection from the elements. Everything moves forward.

Just consider this a badge of honor to recall lovingly to your kids (or their kids): "In my day, Wimbledon was played in the rain. And I had to walk five miles in the snow just to see it .

 

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