The opening two days at Wimbledon have been marred by harsh criticism of the conditions of the famous grass courts, which have seen 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams forced to withdraw after sustaining an injury, but event organizers are standing by the state of the courts.
The All England Club issued a statement Wednesday saying the courts have been checked over before each match and the organizers are “happy with the conditions.” but it noted that because of the weather, the “natural surface” has been impacted.
“Each grass court is checked by the Grand Slam Supervisors, Referee’s Office and Grounds team ahead of play commencing, and on both days of the Fortnight they have been happy with the conditions and cleared the courts for play,” the statement read, via Reuters.
Serena Williams of the U.S. falls to the ground during the women’s singles first- round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus on day two of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday June 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
“The weather conditions on the opening two days have been the wettest we have experienced in almost a decade, which has required the roof to be closed on Centre Court and No.1 Court for long periods. This is at a time when the grass plant is at its most lush and green, which does result in additional moisture on what is a natural surface.”
The All England Club said the courts will “continue to firm up” as each match is played.
Players have been outspoken about the condition of the courts as several players have taken spills on the slippery surface.
Williams was forced to retire from her first-round match against Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Tuesday after injuring her right leg in a fall. Frenchman Adrian Mannarino badly twisted his knee in Tuesday’s match against Roger Federer and was also forced to withdraw.
Adrian Mannarino of France lies on the ground in pain during the men’s singles first-round match against Switzerland’s Roger Federer on day two of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday June 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
“It feels a tad more slippery, maybe, under the roof. I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling,” Federer said afterward, seemingly in line with the organizer’s statement.
“You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down. I do feel it’s drier during the day. With the wind and all that stuff, it takes the (moisture) out of the grass. But this is obviously terrible.”
Even five-time Wimbledon Champion Novak Djokovic fell several times in his first match played on Centre Court on Monday.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic slips on the grass during the men’s singles match against Britain’s Jack Draper on day one of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Monday June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
“I feel, for a lot of players, it’s super key to get through those first two rounds, because the grass is more slippery. It is more soft,” Federer said. “As the tournament progresses, usually it gets harder and easier to move on.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.