The All England Lawn Tennis Club has just announced a break from one of its oldest traditions, scrapping Wimbledon’s Middle Sunday pause in favour of a 14-day tournament schedule.
“From 2022, to coincide with the centenary of Centre Court, Middle Sunday will become a permanent part of the tournament schedule, turning the Championships into a 14-day event,” AELTC Chairman Ian Hewitt said.
This change will also spell the end of “Manic Monday,” the hectic day following Middle Sunday when all men’s and women’s fourth-round matches have to be played during a single day.
Using Middle Sunday as a rest day has been a Wimbledon tradition dating back to the first tournament in 1877. Since then, matches were played on that day only four times in Wimbledon history – in 1991, 1997, 2004, and 2016 – and then only because rain delayed the regular tournament schedule.
The decision weighed on more than just tradition, however: The rest day was previously necessary to maintain the grass, repairing the damage done by the players ahead of the final week of the tournament.
Things have apparently changed for the better in recent years, allowing Wimbledon officials to change their long-held stance. “With thanks to improved grass-court technology and maintenance over the past five years or so and other measures, we are now comfortable that the courts, most particularly Centre Court, can be maintained without a full day of rest,” Hewitt explained.
“It’s important at this stage of the development of the sport that Wimbledon should be even more accessible to the people who want to access it and at the times at which they are best able to,” he added. “We consider that it’s in the best interests of the tennis fans that Wimbledon should be available to be watched and attended throughout that middle weekend.”
How do you feel about the change, fellow punters? It will undoubtedly bring Wimbledon more revenue and make it more accessible to fans; large betting sites in the UK and elsewhere are sure to take notice as well. Only time will tell if the new schedule was a necessary step forward or a pointless break with tradition.