Many big stars recall it as wacky Wednesday. The
third day of last year’s Championships when Wimbledon’s grass began to
play more like an ice rink of several big names, such as Maria
Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Marin Cilic all
suffered bad tumbles while Victoria Azarenka was forced to withdraw
because of an injury she suffered because of a slip on court a few days
At the time both Wimbledon chief executive
Richard Lewis and head grounds man Neil Stubley were insistent that the
quality of the grass was exactly the same as it was in preceding years.
Now four times Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman, a member of the All
England Club’s Committee of Management and many people’s tip to
eventually succeed Philip Brook as chairman, insists there will not be
any change in the preparation of the playing surfaces despite the
controversy of 2013.
Henman revealed extensive research by the All
England Club found no underlying cause for the amount of players who
marked the first week by sprawling all over the courts. “It didn’t
perturb myself or Neil Stubley because we collect and study so much
information about the courts,’ said the 39 year-old former world no.4.
“We scientifically measure things like their
hardness, the length of the grass, the moisture, the bounce. These were
found to be identical to the year before.”
Henman will again have a busy fortnight,
splitting with duties behind the scenes in the running of the
Championship with being a lead commentator with the BBC TV broadcast
team. He observed: “‘I was watching the Aegon Championships at Queen’s
last week and seeing players sliding everywhere and nobody was
“There will always be some slips and falls on
new grass courts early in a tournament and it’s understandable that
there is more focus on Wimbledon.
I think it was emphasized a bit more last year
because some high-profile players like Maria Sharapova and Caroline
Wozniacki had falls.”
Henman is insistent the reason for so many
accidents was the short turnaround time from the end of the clay court
season at Roland Garros to the outset of play on grass. Many players
barely had time to change their shoes before dealing with the vagaries
of a completely different playing surface.
So Henman applauds the decision of the tennis
ruling bodies to insert an extra week from the calendar of 2015 onwards
between the two European majors. “One of the benefits of having a
three-week gap between the French and Wimbledon from next year is that
players will have more time to adjust and they will be moving better
from the start,” he said.