Every cloud has a £100 million retractable roof

Monday 20th Jun 2011 by theWeather Club

As night follows day and a run on strawberries follows sunshine, so the start of Wimbledon heralds the arrival of a blanket of threatening cloud. Those who hoped last month's spate of uncharacteristically sunny bank holiday weekends might bode well for the tennis tournament will find they are disappointed: forecasters predict that the changeable weather of late will prevail over the next few days, bringing more showers than sunshine to the South East.

"Unfortunately, after several years of mainly dry Wimbledon fortnights, this year's tournament is likely to see more unsettled conditions, with rain at times" said Andy Page from the Met Office, whose gloomy predictions have also cast a shadow over the start of Glastonbury this week.

Come Wednesday festival-goers would be advised to pack their ponchos, as changeable conditions threaten downpours toward the end of the week. Yet while fashionable waterproofs are the hallmarks of a Glastonbury wardrobe, when it comes to actually keeping dry Wimbledon wins hands down.

Barely used since its instalment in 2009, the 3,000 ton, multi-million pound retractable roof over Centre Court is the silver lining to Page's predictions for the audience and the players.

"There's definitely an advantage to get your match finished if the weather's not good" said Andy Murray, in an interview with the Telegraph on Friday. "If you can get on and get your match done, you don't have to play back-to-back days. It's tough over five sets."

With the worst of the weather set to coincide with Murray's match this afternoon, the fourth seed will be relying on the court covering team to rise to the occasion should rainfall strike. Nevertheless head groundsman designate Neil Stubley was confident that last week's inclement weather had proved them perfectly up to the task.

"The week leading up was wet, which refocuses everyone, gets us back in the routine of covering the courts and keeping them dry," he told the Telegraph. On average, the covering time is 30 seconds. Over 3,800 people are expected in the stalls. It seems hard to believe when you look back at washouts past, but this year it seems both Glastonbury and Wimbledon could be singing in the rain.