18 May 2009

Graf, Agassi inaugurate roof at Wimbledon

7:09 pm on 18 May 2009

Wimbledon's historic centre court has completed a modern makeover, as a new retractable roof was tested at an exhibition match involving Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.

The roof is part of a wider revamping of centre court at the All England Club, which now has an increased maximum capacity of 15,000, and more comfortable seating.

It is the roof, however, that will cheer Wimbledon players and fans across the globe who have long had to endure London's famously wet summers playing havoc with the tournament's scheduling.

It has been designed to open and close in under 10 minutes, is translucent to allow natural light to continue to shine on the lawn, and has been fitted with floodlights.

Tournament officials have also said there is no cut-off time to finish a day's play, meaning epic matches could turn into after-dark dramas.

On Sunday, former Wimbledon champions Agassi and Graf lost a mixed doubles match against retired former British No.1 Tim Henman and Belgium's Kim Clijsters 7-6, with Agassi and Henman set to stage their own singles match later in the day before Graf and Clijsters take over for one of their own.

Wimbledon will take place between 22 June and 5 July.