Wimbledon's new Centre Court roof was used in a match at the tournament for the first time after rain interrupted the match involving Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo. The roof, reported to have cost £80 million (Dh255m) to install, was not used during play in the first week of the tournament. However light rain forced the players off court today and after taking advice on the weather prospects, Wimbledon officials decided the roof should be closed.
The court was initially covered with a green tarpaulin, in the fashion tennis fans have seen repeated many times down the years. Play initially continued on some outside courts before all the players were called back in, to allow the rain clouds to pass. Although the roof takes just 10 minutes to close, more time is required to ensure the conditions inside the arena are suitable for play, meaning Safina and Mauresmo could not resume their match immediately.
Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, told the BBC a resumption could not be rushed. "You've got a roof closed, you have 15,000 people in here perspiring as well so we have to make sure it's completely dry and safe for the players," Ritchie said. "We are pumping air in and taking humidity out, we can crank it up or down depending on how humid the conditions are.
"We've been waiting for it for so long, it's the first time ever at Wimbledon somebody's waiting for rain, but we'd still prefer the sunshine." There was cheering in the crowd when it emerged the roof would be closed. Mr Ritchie said: "It's a historic moment in many ways and I'm sure they all feel delighted to be here. We'll be grateful if the sun comes back." * PA Sport