Wimbledon readies for 2012 Olympic makeover
The grass still will be green when the Olympics come to
Wimbledon in 2012 and that is just about all that will look the
The familiar dark green surroundings of Centre Court will be
replaced by one of the Olympic theme colors; players will be decked
out in their national colors instead of the traditional all-white
of Wimbledon; there will be no queue snaking around the nearby
”We’ve got to make sure we stamp our mark on it,” said Debbie
Jevans, London 2012 director of sport and venues, ”so when people
come to Wimbledon, they know they’re part of an Olympic
competition, and they don’t feel like they’re coming back to
At the same time, Jevans recognized that the appeal of visiting
Wimbledon, ”the greatest tennis venue in the world,” was at least
part of the reason why tennis was one of the events that sold out
its allocation in the first round of sales.
”Clearly, people want to come to Wimbledon but also they want
to see the great players and they want to experience the Olympics
so those three together make it a pretty compelling package,” she
Organizers will have just 19 days between the end of the 2012
Championships and the start of the Olympic competition on July 28
to complete the makeover.
Restoring the green of the grass-courts will not prove a
problem, according to the All England Club’s head groundsman Eddie
Seaward, one of a handful of personnel from the Grand Slam
tournament who also will work at the Olympic event.
He already knew from experience that it was possible after
readying the courts for the filming of the Wimbledon movie shortly
after the 2003 Championships. Just in case there was any doubt, he
carried out another trial run for the benefit of Olympics
organizers after last year’s tournament.
Immediately after the 2012 Grand Slam tournament ends, Seaward’s
team will plant pre-germinated seeds in any bare or brown patches
on the courts, particularly around the baseline.
At the 2008 Beijing Games, the Olympic rings were painted behind
the baseline and Seaward said he wouldn’t have any practical
objection to that on Centre Court.
”Nobody’s said anything, but it would be possible,” he
Seaward’s task will be made slightly easier because fewer courts
are needed for the Olympic event, which will have a capacity of
26,000, compared to 40,000 during the Grand Slam tournament. Centre
Court and Court 1 will be used, but the recently redeveloped No. 3
is among those being earmarked as a practice court.
The competition itself features 64-player men’s and women’s
singles tournaments. Medals also will be handed out for men’s and
women’s doubles and, for the first time since tennis returned to
the Olympic program in 1988, mixed doubles.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal won the gold medal in men’s singles in
Beijing four years ago. Roger Federer teamed with Stanislas
Wawrinka to win the men’s doubles for Switzerland.
Among the women, Elena Dementieva of Russia, who has retired,
won the singles and sisters Venus and Serena Williams captured the
Instead of the usual mix of international royalty, British
celebrities, and All England Club members, seats in the Royal Box
on Centre Court will be reserved for members of the ”Olympic
The theme color of the venue has not been decided, but will be
dark to ensure players can pick out the ball. The International
Olympic Committee operates a ”clean venue” policy so there will
be no advertising around the courts, but the areas outside the
courts likely will have a different look and feel.
However, Jevans said strawberries and cream, the traditional
snack of the Championships, could be available.
The 2011 Wimbledon tournament is acting as a test event for the
Olympics. More than 100 staff from the organizing team have been to
the tournament during the two weeks.
London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton, and Carlos Nuzman,
the president of the 2016 Rio Olympics, have been guests in the
The final wrinkles will be ironed out at another event behind
closed doors at the end of September, when technology such as the
scoring equipment will be tested.