April 14, 2024

Open Court


It won’t be the usual Wimbledon, but there will be Wimbledon in 2021


Wimbledon 2021 will run a tightly-controlled ship.

Wimbledon looks set to go ahead in 2021, after being cancelled because of the pandemic a year ago.

But it won’t be the Wimbledon the fans are used to.

And, more pertinently for players who’ve about reached their limit on the bubble life, it won’t be the Wimbledon they have come to appreciate.

Per documents reviewed by Open Court, subsequent to a call set up by the tournament with the players, there will be a lot of restrictions not unlike those they’ve had to get used to over the last eight months.

“Minimised Risk Environment”

The players and support staff will be allowed to skip mandatory quarantine with an exemption. But they will have to travel straight to the official player hotel.

The hotel is called a “Minimised Risk Environment”.

Well, the All-England club is “confident” that “those individuals essential to the staging of the Championships” will be allowed in – even if they are coming from a “red list” country. But they will have to (as at most tournaments) quarantine in their hotel room awaiting a negative PCR test upon arrival. The AELTC also “is confident” that the results will be back within four hours.

It’s unlikely we’ll see scenes like this at Wimbledon this summer. On the plus side, there will BE a Wimbledon this summer.

Part of the “Minimised Risk Environments” means the tournament will organize any transportation. So, sounds like, no Ubers.

They still haven’t confirmed what the prize money will be.

And they still don’t know what the level of capacity will be for fans.

Those two concepts, naturally, are not unrelated.

On the plus side, there will be a Wimbledon in 2021.

No private homes – sorry, Wimbledon folk

The residents in the area of the All-England Club get a windfall every year, as the players and their teams rent nearby homes for numerous weeks during June and July.

The neighbours around Wimbledon will go without their annual windfall for the second straight year, as players and teams are remanded to the official hotel.

That will not happen this year. The players and teams will only be allowed on the Wimbledon grounds and the player hotel.

(It’s more than just the players; international fans who attend the tournament ratchet the revenue during the Championship up into the millions, per this story).

The AELTC told the players that the hotel restrictions was a “key condition of the privileges they have been granted in relation to holding the event which includes a significant proportion of attendees travelling from overseas.”

The players and teams will likely be tested more often than the UK government requirement of a PCR test on Day 2 and Day 8 after arrival in the country.

Hard to predict in advance if topless blokes will be allowed to use the courts at the qualifying event.

At this point, even vaccinated players will be required to follow all these rules (although that might evolve – things are going pretty well on that front in the U.K. right now).

Masks will have to be worn always, except when alone in the hotel room, eating and drinking, or doing sporty things.

One room on the tournament’s dime

Only one hotel room per player will be paid for by the tournament. The second room (and there’s no option but to stay there) will go for $305 US ($380 CAD) for a single and $388 US ($485 CAD) for a double.

(As an aside, someone is making good money on this deal. We checked the travel sites for room prices earlier in the week, before the blackout dates. And the best rate for a double room, tax included, was less than $300 CAD).

Those prices appear to be the same for players in qualifying, as well.

The usual player per diem won’t be allocated this year, with the tournament providing one hotel room.

The official hotel doesn’t look like it will have any balconies up for grabs, which will make the confinement even more challenging.

And, as at other tournaments, they strongly discourage sharing a room with someone else (a coach, or a fellow player).

A few players were in that situation at Roland Garros last fall, and ended up out of the qualifying.

But at those hotel prices, no doubt some will ignore that advice.

The per diem for 2019, the last time the tournament was held, was 200 pounds a night ($275 US/$350 CAD). But with that, you could probably rent a flat and host several people.

The hotel has over 1,019 rooms.

No grocery runs – or any runs

The players can’t leave the hotel for dinner, to buy groceries or go for a run. They’re not allowed visitors, either.

The tournament’s medical staff recommends that any dinner companions be limited to team members – not other players or staff.

The players can bring up to three guests – all of whom must stay in the player hotel (at those prices – and, as recommended, one per room).

Only player support staff can use the seats designed for players on the show courts. So – no invites for London friends, or lucky fans.

No taxis, no Ubers. The fancy Wimbledon fleet will have to take players where they want to go.

The players’ day care for the kids won’t be operating this year.

The mixed doubles draw will be 48 teams, as usual. And there will be wheelchair tennis.

And the junior event and the warmup at Roehampton are on the ITF’s schedule.

Oh, but no queue.

The traditional and emblematic Wimbledon queue – a beacon of democracy in the rarefied AELTC air – will not be a thing in 2021.

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