Currently, the AELTC is working to Sports Grounds Safety Authority guidance, which would see spectator capacity at around 25 per cent. However, the club has said it will await the outcome and guidance following the Government’s Events Research Programme, remaining flexible, as restrictions could be relaxed after June 21.
Sally Bolton, chief executive of AELTC, said: “We would like to thank all those with whom we continue to work across Government, public health and other sporting bodies for their support to make this a reality, to bring back sporting events in the way that we all recognise. Our priority has and will always be to do this safely, with the support and trust of all our stakeholders.
“We very much hope 25 per cent is a minimum position from which we can build – it is our absolute desire to enable as many people as possible to safely attend The Championships this year. At the heart of our thinking is the intention to create the mix of spectators for which Wimbledon is known, while also working hard to protect the financial performance of The Championships, including the surplus that we deliver for the benefit of British tennis.”
Looking beyond 2021, the AELTC also announced a significant development to enhance The Championships, and open up tennis, for the future. From 2022, to coincide with the centenary of Centre Court, Middle Sunday will become a permanent part of the tournament schedule, turning The Championships into a 14-day event.
Hewitt commented: “Thanks to improved grass court technology and maintenance over the past five years or so and other measures, we are comfortable that we are able to look after the courts, most particularly Centre Court, without a full day of rest.
“This provides us with the opportunity, at an important time, to enhance the accessibility, reach and fanbase of Wimbledon, and tennis, both in the UK and globally. It will also ensure greater resilience and fairness of the tournament programme for our competitors and enable us to create a different kind of atmosphere on the Middle Sunday, with a strong focus on the local community in particular. To be able to launch this new tradition at the same time as celebrating the history of Centre Court in 2022 is something we look forward to immensely.”