The playing surface at Wimbledon 2021 has garnered just as much attention as the play on the courts over the first few days.
On Tuesday, two Centre Court matches ended early because of injuries. Roger Federer defeated Adrian Mannarino after the Frenchman slipped in the fourth set and couldn’t go on in the fifth. Then, Serena Williams suffered a fall against Aliaksandra Sasnovich and had to retire in the first set due to a leg injury.
Those were far from the only slips and falls at Wimbledon so far. Players have noted the slick conditions of the grass surface during the early stages of the tournament.
“To be honest I don’t recall falling this many times on the court,” World No. 1 Novak Djokovic said after his four-set win over Jack Draper on Wimbledon’s first day.
“It feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof, I don’t know if it’s a gut feel,” Federer told reporters after Mannarino’s exit on Tuesday, per CNN’s George Ramsey.
“You do have to move very, very carefully out there, and if you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down … this is obviously terrible. I don’t think it plays very different but again I’m also moving carefully.”
Nick Kyrgios was also unhappy with the “slow” conditions on the surface.
“Guys, for you watching at home, it should be fast in here,” Kyrgios said. “They’ve made it slow. This isn’t grass anymore.”
Kyrgios went on to slip on Wednesday during the fifth set of his match with Ugo Humbert. He would get up to continue the competition despite the awkward-looking fall and went on to win.
So, what’s with the conditions at Wimbledon and why are players slipping so much? The Wimbledon brass explained exactly what is going on in a recent statement.
Why are players slipping at Wimbledon?
Players are slipping at Wimbledon due to the recent weather at the All England Club. It has been wetter than usual for the first two days of the tournament; in fact, it has been a decade since this much moisture has collected at and around the courts this early in the major.
As a result of the rain, the Centre Court and No. 1 Court roofs have had to stay closed for prolonged periods. That has created some extra humidity inside the courts which, coupled with the lushness of the grass in the early stages of the tournament, is responsible for the extra moisture.
Wimbledon explained all of this via an official statement, but nonetheless, the major tournament claimed that officials are “happy” with conditions at the tournament, per CNN.
“The preparation of the grass courts has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years.
“Each grass court is checked by the Grand Slam Supervisors, Referee’s Office and Grounds team ahead of play commencing, and on both days of the Fortnight they have been happy with the conditions and cleared the courts for play.
“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 No.1 Court 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.”
This explanation is sensible. Still, it won’t make it any easier for tennis fans to stomach the injuries that Williams and Mannarino suffered.