Wimbledon first-week attendance slips due to rain

LONDON (AP) — The All England Club isn’t worried about fans skipping Wimbledon because of England’s run in soccer’s European Championship.

The rain is another story, though.

Week One attendance was down by 3.7% from last year as rain interrupted play on several days at the grass-court Grand Slam. Friday’s attendance was the lowest for a first Friday, excluding the pandemic-restricted 2021 tournament, since 1998.

“This year the weather has been so variable and so bad at times that I think at the moment our assessment is it’s almost certainly the weather that’s impacting (attendance),” Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club, said Monday as the tournament entered its second week.

A total of 36,630 fans attended on Friday, when rain delayed the start of play by two hours and also stopped matches from being played on the outside courts in the evening. Excluding 2021, that was the lowest for a first Friday since 34,945 in 1998, according to official tournament records. The comparable figure last year was 42,279.

Wimbledon could easily sell out in pre-event sales but tickets are held back for day-of sales for fans in the famous Queue.

“It’s such an important part of the Championships, primarily to protect accessibility, and so we accept that in retaining the Queue, we are adding in some ambiguity about the numbers of people who get through on the grounds,” Bolton said. “And of course the weather has been so terrible.”

This year’s Week One total of 282,955 was 10,726 less than a year ago.

On Sunday, No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev said he “didn’t get to warm up today before the match because it was raining.” He played on No. 1 Court, which like Centre Court has a retractable roof.

If rain continues to disrupt play this week, contingencies include moving juniors matches indoors. The tournament has already reduced early rounds of mixed doubles to two sets and a tiebreaker, Bolton added.

England has advanced to the semifinals of Euro 2024 and will play the Netherlands on Wednesday.

“I’m not concerned about a football impact,” Bolton said. “At this point I’m concerned about it still being raining on Wednesday.”


AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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