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Wimbledon 2019: Improvement, expansion, and green credentials are the watchwords

• No1 Court with new retractable roof ready for business at 2019 Championships

• Acquisition of Wimbledon Park Golf Club opens way to expansion

• Environmentally friendly initiatives include 100% recyclable and recycled bottles and removal of plastic bags from player racket stringing operation

• A Junior tournament, 14 and under, from 2022

• Quad Wheelchair Singles and Doubles tournaments integrated into 2019 programme

• An 11.8% increase in Prize Money this year

Chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Philip Brook, who retires from his role at the end of 2019 following nine years at the helm, is leaving the Wimbledon Championships in very good shape, judging by the list of achievement, initiatives, and future plans that he presented during his last AGM at Wimbledon on Tuesday morning.

He said: “I have been proud to have witnessed a period of significant change over the past decade… The enhancements announced for 2019, in particular the successful completion of the No1 Court Project, continue to reflect our confidence in the future and in our strategy of continuous improvement, to maintain Wimbledon’s place at the pinnacle of the sport.”

Indeed the completion of the retractable roof over Court 1 will be a huge boon to the tournament, and the experience for spectators will not only be assured against the weather but enhanced by all-new seating—and an increased capacity to 12,345.

The entire facility will be tested in front of a capacity crowd on 19 May, when a programme of tennis and music will include three tennis matches featuring John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Lleyton Hewitt and Goran Ivanisevic, with further players to be announced nearer the date. A proportion of ticket proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to the charities nominated by the participating players, and to “A Roof For All”, a new fund for the homeless set up by the Wimbledon Foundation to help support charities in the local area and across London.

Not just Court 1—more site developments

· The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum will celebrate the history of the No1 Court with a dedicated exhibition featuring plans and models from the 1920s through to the present day, an audio-visual wall showcasing hundreds of magic moments from on court over the years, and original artworks commissioned to commemorate the No1 Court Project. The exhibition will run until March 2020.

· Somerset Road: Following the completion of the No1 Court Project, improvements to the Somerset Road site will be addressed as the next stage of the Master Plan:

o Construction of six clay courts.

o Six new indoor courts and improved indoor facilities for competitors’ use.

o Construction of an underground car park with 350 spaces and around 40 electric charging points, which will be the hub of The Championships’ courtesy car operation, and the relocated competitor drop-off and accreditation area.

· A refurbishment of the Millennium Building, which houses competitors, the media and Members, is progressing through an in-depth briefing and design stage.

· Wimbledon Park Golf Club: Following the successful acquisition at the end of 2018, the WPGC will continue to operate as an 18-hole golf course until 31 December 2021, with at least one further year as a 9- or 10-hole golf course. The AELTC’s aspirations for the land include relocating the Qualifying Competition, and exploring options to deliver community use of the land outside of The Championships period.

· AELTC Community Sports Ground at Raynes Park: The local community facility currently has six hard courts (three indoor and three outdoor), with more than 1,000 players registered for ‘pay and play’ access to the centre. Phase 2 of the development, which includes three additional indoor courts and up to 16 grass courts, has been granted planning permission and will commence in June.

The Championships: matches and money

· The Championships 2019 will be played on 18 courts: Centre, No1, No2, No3, 4-12, 14-18.

· The start time has been moved 30 minutes earlier this year on the outside courts to 11.00am. The start time remains 1.00pm on Centre Court and No1 Court, and 2.00pm for the Ladies’ Singles and Gentlemen’s Singles finals on Centre Court.

· Quad Wheelchair Singles and Doubles will be introduced for 2019.

· The Ladies’ Singles Qualifying Draw will increase from 96 to 128, bringing it in line with the size of the Gentlemen’s Singles Qualifying Draw. As a result, there will no longer be Qualifying Doubles events.

· A tie-break at 12-12 in the final set will apply to all events across Qualifying, Gentlemen’s, Ladies’, Mixed and Junior singles and doubles.

· Electronic line-calling and players challenges will be introduced on Courts 14-17, with more courts to be added next year.

· The introduction of the Aorangi Player Lawn, a new warm-up and stretching space for competitors on what was formerly Aorangi Practice Courts 1 and 2.

· The total prize money fund for The Championships 2019 will be £38m, an 11.8% increase:

· The Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Champions will each receive £2.35m, increased from £2.25m in 2018.

o Singles prize money for players competing in the Qualifying Competition and first three rounds of Main Draw will increase by more than 10%. Since 2011, first round prize money has increased by almost four-fold, from £11,500 to £45,000.

o The Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Doubles will receive an increase of 14.2%.

o The prize money paid for Wheelchair events will increase by 47% through a combination of a double digit increase for the existing Wheelchair events and new prize money for the Quad Wheelchair events that have been added this year.

Sustainability and Environment

· The launch of the first 100% recycled, 100% recyclable water bottle from Evian

· The removal of plastic bags from the player racket stringing operation

Junior Grass Court Strategy

Paul Hutchins MBE, who sadly passed away earlier this year, believed passionately in the power of the prospect of playing at Wimbledon to motivate young players to recognise the importance of grass court tennis and to seize the opportunity to compete on it from a young age. But many juniors still turn up to Wimbledon having never played on grass.

· A new 18 and under Grade 1 ITF grass court tournament in Nottingham will take place the week before the existing Grade 1 ITF tournament in Roehampton, creating a three-week grass court series culminating with The Junior Championships at Wimbledon for the top 150 juniors in the world.

· A new International 14 and under grass court event will be staged in the second week of The Championships from 2022.

· Further enhancements to the 14 and under Road to Wimbledon participation events, taking place across the UK, and in India, China, Hong Kong and Japan in 2019, culminating in the Road to Wimbledon Finals at the All England Club in August.

Online Ballot

From 2020, applications for the Public Ballot will be online.

Key Dates

Tuesday 18 June: Wild cards allocated.

Monday 24-Thursday 27 June: Qualifying Competition, Bank of England Sports Club.

Wednesday 26 June: Seeds announced.

Friday 28 June, 10am: The Draws.

Saturday 29 June and Sunday 30 June: Media and press days

Sunday 30 June, 8am: The Queue opens.

Monday 1-Sunday 14 July: The Championships 2019.

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