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Wimbledon’s special magic is back and includes changes

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Serena Williams leaned back on her chair and thought.

The seven-time Wimbledon Champion has just been asked about one of the things she’s looking forward to when she returns to Wimbledon for the first time since Coronavirus closed Wimbledon last year. Suddenly, Williams jumped forward as if he had Epiphany.

“I love grass,” Williams said at the French Open this month, but admitted that he hadn’t even practiced on the surface because he lost to Simona Halep in the 2019 final. “The only thing I like most is its cleanliness. I think it’s very chic and crispy. That’s a good word: crisp.”

Crisp may be the best word to describe Wimbledon’s aura. Those iridescent green grass coats are in perfect condition. This is the only professional tournament that requires participants to wear pure white clothing without a logo. Facilities such as the Royal Box, which features purple and green signature blankets, are adorned.

And Williams isn’t the only one who still understands the importance of the only major playing on the grass.

“Wimbledon is magical,” said 2019 semi-finalist Elina Svitolina. But you’re in a pure white, very nice historic place, so the whole atmosphere lets you experience stepping into the court. “

Wimbledon is back, starting on Monday, but this year it looks and feels quite different. Attendance at the Center Court and First Court is limited to 50%, but smaller show courts can accommodate 75% of the capacity. In the semi-finals and finals, the number of seats on the center court is expected to increase to 100%.

There are also strict regulations regarding vaccination and testing protocols. All ticket holders are required to present proof of Covid status at the time of admission, either in the form of two vaccinations or proof of a Covid test negative within the last 48 hours. All participants are required to wear face covers as they move around the premises, but they are free to remove them while in their seats. Players have their own set of rules that allow them to be exempt from public quarantine requirements while keeping themselves and the general public safe.

“This will be Wimbledon like we’ve never known before,” said Dan Evans, UK’s number one singles. “It’s obviously a great place to play tennis, but my most important feeling is that it will be very different from what we know.”

Some traditions have been lost as tickets are distributed via mobile devices this year. For example, you are not allowed to camp out for a spare ticket. Players no longer find celebrities outside Wimbledon Village rental housing because they need to stay at a designated hotel in London. Also, for environmental reasons, plastic cups decorated with pictures of traditional Wimbledon dessert strawberries and cream strawberries have been replaced with sustainable cardboard containers.

As with other major championships this year, prize money will be redistributed and more will be sent to early round losers. This year, men’s and women’s singles champions will receive £ 2.35 million to £ 1.7 million in 2019, while those who fall into the first round will receive £ 48,000 more than two years ago.

Other changes include Hawk-Eye Live, a device that uses 10 cameras around the court, where players on all courts, not just the premier court, challenge lineperson calls. (The line person is not cut), and as a result, as in other tournaments). In addition, serve clocks are installed on all courts.

Seeds are based on the WTA and Association of Tennis Professionals rankings. In short, champions Roger Federer and Williams are both currently ranked 8th and will be able to meet top-seeded Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals. In the past, Wimbledon often postponed to past champions when making seeds.

Getting used to playing on grass that is hard to grasp and has uneven bounces can be a challenge for players who haven’t competed on the surface for two years. So did some grass-court warm-up events when Wimbledon was canceled last year. This year, the French Open has been postponed for a week to allow the removal of the Covid-19 restriction in France, further shortening the transition time for players.

“No one practiced on the grass for no reason,” said second-seeded Daniil Medvedev. “This year is not easy.”

For most players, nothing is certain this year. Bertie will take part in the tournament with a lower back injury that caused him to retire during his second match at the French Open. Defending champion Halep did not participate in the tournament due to a calf injury. She withdrew from Wimbledon on Friday. British Open champion Dominic Thiem also withdrew due to a wrist injury earlier in the week.

Naomi Osaka, who is second in the world, also withdrew from the tournament because she needed time to leave the match. She also withdrew from the French Open because of mental health issues. And Williams, still shy to set a record for Margaret Court’s 24 Major Singles Championships, played on a sparse schedule this year. She advanced to the semi-finals at the Australian Open in February and lost to the final champion, Osaka.

French Open winner Barbora Kletikova has never played a main draw at Wimbledon, but is seeded in 15th place.

When Rafael Nadal announced that he would withdraw from Wimbledon and the Olympics after losing to Djokovic in the semifinals at the French Open, Wimbledon’s most interesting storyline suddenly became Federer and Djokovic.

Federer, who won eight Wimbledon titles, has played just eight games in the last two years and was unexpectedly defeated by Felix Auger Aliassime two weeks ago in a lawn warm-up in Halle, Germany.

Then Djokovic, who won the Australian and French Open this year, is in the middle of a Grand Slam. If he wins the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, he will achieve the golden slam that only Steffi Graf did in 1988.

“Everything is possible,” Djokovic said after defeating Alexander Zverev and winning his second French Open. “I was in a good position to go to the Golden Slums.”

Wimbledon is already looking ahead. In 2022, the All England Club, which hosts the tournament, will add play on Sunday in the middle of an event traditionally reserved for court and player rest and rejuvenation. The All England Club recently announced plans to expand to nearby green spaces and create a 8,000-seat show court that the club expects to be ready by 2030.

But this year, the people who value the tournament are back and relieved.

“Wimbledon is such an anchor for all of us,” said Jim Courier, a former world’s number one and now tennis channel commentator. “I think the sport as a whole will be rejuvenated. I’m relieved that Wimbledon will be back and visible again.

“Wimbledon” added Courier. “It’s a perfect blend of old and new. They understand it correctly in so many ways. We missed it.”

Wimbledon’s special magic is back and includes changes

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