Why is Wimbledon so slippy this year?
Andy Murray was one of a number of players to raise concerns over the playing surface on Wimbledon’s Centre Court after Serena Williams a été forced to retire from her first-round match on Monday. Williams injured her ankle after slipping on the grass surface, becoming the second player in as many matches to retire injured following a tumble on the court.
In the previous match, Adrian Mannarino twisted his knee while leading Roger Federer after also slipping on the surface. Following Williams’ retirement, Murray tweeted: “Brutal for Serena Williams but Centre Court is extremely slippy out there. Not easy to move out there.” Federer added: “It’s obviously terrible that it’s back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down.”
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But why are players slipping so much at Wimbledon? And is there anything different about the grass at the Championships this year?
According to Federer, apparently not. “Those first two matches are always extremely difficult. But it’s always been like this,” the eight-time Wimbledon champion said. “I feel for a lot of players, it’s super-key to get through those first two rounds because the grass is more slippery, it is more soft. As the tournament progresses, it usually gets harder and easier to move on.”
The grass courts at SW19 are luscious and green over the first few days of play before they are gradually worn down over the course of the two-week tournament. That naturally leads the grass to being more slippery over the first couple of rounds, especially in damp and humid conditions.
Williams and Mannarino’s injuries on Centre Court came under the roof, as rain at Wimbledon continued to disrupt the opening couple of days. That leads to the conditions on the court being even more humid than usual. “I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof,” Federer said.
Following play on Tuesday, the All England Club released a statement which read: “The weather conditions on the opening two days have been the wettest we have experienced in almost a decade, which has required the roof to be closed on Centre Court and Court One for long periods.
“This is at a time when the grass plant is at its most lush and green, which does result in additional moisture on what is a natural surface.”
Conditions are expected to improve as the tournament progresses, as the courts become firmer due to the number of matches being played on them. Hotter and drier weather should also see conditions improve for the players.
The All England Club added: “With each match that is played, the courts will continue to firm up.”