The grass tennis courts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, or better known as Wimbledon, were in the sports headlines last week. Some players exiting early to defeat took some parting shots at the slickness of the courts. The rebuttal, support, and the education about grass that followed those negative headlines reached a standard never seen before in grass sports surface maintenance.
Wimbledon’s CEO immediately issued a statement about the courts:
STATEMENT FROM RICHARD LEWIS, CEO, ON PLAYER WITHDRAWALS
London, UK: “There has been a high number of withdrawals at The Championships today and we sympathise with all the players affected. The withdrawals have occurred for a variety of reasons, but there has been some suggestion that the court surface is to blame. We have no reason to think this is the case. Indeed, many players have complimented us on the very good condition of the courts.
“The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years and it is well known that grass surfaces tend to be more lush at the start of an event. The factual evidence, which is independently checked, is that the courts are almost identical to last year, as dry and firm as they should be, and we expect them to continue to play to their usual high quality.”
Richard Lewis, Chief Executive
The All England Club
The “factual evidence” that Mr. Lewis is referencing comes from a strict and regular testing program that the Wimbledon Grounds Department is on in conjunction with the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI). The testing data allows the Wimbledon to ensure the courts are consistent and prepared every day for their own players and for the players at the Championship.
Then following the Wimbledon CEO statement, the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) also issued a statement.
WIMBLEDON PLAYING SURFACES: STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE INSTITUTE OF GROUNDSMANSHIP FROM CHIEF EXECUTIVE GEOFF WEBB
“The highly-professional and experienced All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) grounds management team works year-round preparing the world-renowned Wimbledon grass courts with the Championships very much in mind – as the annual showcase of playing surfaces that represent the ultimate in top-class playability as well as appearance.
“The considerable expertise of the AELTC grounds management team is underpinned by a multi-million pound turf care industry where companies spend many years developing high-performance turf grass seed specifically for sport. Alongside this, the very best in turfcare machinery and equipment is also on hand to ensure that by the time the tournament starts the courts are in the very best condition possible.
“Independent scientific testing on the courts is regularly carried out and the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) is in no doubt that this year’s playing surfaces at Wimbledon are of the same usual high standards, as evident at last year’s Olympic and 2012 Championships”
Then in what has to be a completely unprecedented move by Mr. Geoff Webb, IOG CEO, Mr. Webb. went on CNN News to discuss the facts with the general public about what was happening at Wimbledon. Mr. Webb also reiterated the professionalism, the specialization, and the meticulous nature of the Wimbledon Grounds team (and all grass sports surface managers for that matter).
WATCH: Why is Wimbledon so slippery?
The Wimbledon Grounds team received much and well deserved credit last year as they set a new standard for quality with keeping the courts immaculate through the Championships followed by the Olympics only 16 days later. As the Wimbledon Championships wrap up this weekend for this year, they have done yet another miraculous job of proving that grass CAN take more. And inadvertently they have created yet another new standard of support and education about the specialization of the natural grass sports surface industry. Kudos to them for another job WELL DONE… and kudos to all those who supported them with facts and education about the possibilities of natural grass.