LONDON – This is one of the oldest traditions in sport; “Middle Sunday” at Wimbledon, a day when the competition comes to a halt and the tennis world slows down for a moment, a chance to rest and recover before the hustle and bustle of week two.
But from 2022, Middle Sunday will be a game day like any other as the championships become a regular 14-day tournament.
And it looks like gamers are going to miss it.
“It is a tradition that we have Sunday off”, former champion Angelique Kerber mentionned. “Nothing is open. You come here, you practice. Everything is really calm. You know you have reached the second week. Over the years that I have played here, I have really enjoyed Sunday because you’re really recovering from week one. You know, okay, now week two starts. You have to get ready already from Monday. I think I’ll miss it, to be honest. “
Australian Nick kyrgios said he was quite surprised that things were changing.
“It’s tradition, isn’t it?” he said. “Wimbledon is full of them. I love that they don’t take any sticks from anyone. They really don’t care. They do it their way. That’s what makes it special. I’m actually surprised that. they are I’m gonna do that. I like mid-day off Sunday Everyone just has kind of a break and then they start over. It’s cool. Obviously they do because the weather is a bit unpredictable here, isn’t it? “
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam of the four events not to be played on Middle Sunday, a tradition that has been fiercely protected for years by the All England Club, who have always maintained that weed needs a day so badly. rest as players. But after the championships are canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though some of their income was protected by their pandemic insurance, the club are looking for more ways to make money and the extra day will respond. to this need.
Wimbledon says the move is more than about the money.
“This gives us the opportunity, at an important time, to improve the accessibility, reach and fan base of Wimbledon and tennis, both in the UK and globally,” Wimbledon said at the of the news announcement in April. “It will also ensure greater resilience and fairness of the tournament program for our competitors and allow us to create a different atmosphere on Middle Sunday, with a strong focus on the local community in particular.”
The absence of Sunday play dates back to a time when very little sport of any kind was played in England, in part for religious reasons. International cricket matches were suspended on Sunday. The first professional football match on a Sunday was in 1974, but it wasn’t until 1983 that Sunday football became a regular event.
Wimbledon sometimes took a long time to catch up, but it should be remembered that until 1981, the men’s final at Wimbledon was played on the second Saturday (the women’s final was on Friday).
“Look, you have to like traditions, but Roland Garros was also held over 15 days,” Roger Federer said of the schedule change. “Everyone wants more days. More days means more income, more options, more of this and that. I understand. I don’t think they did it just because of the income. just that it goes with time too. I think in some ways you liked it because it resets the whole draw for Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday. At the same time, all other tournaments do it differently as well. Maybe it goes over time. I get it. “
While the loss of Middle Sunday as a day of rest can be lamented by media around the world, which generally appreciated the chance to have a relatively calm day, it makes a lot of sense from a fairness standpoint.
For players, this means that unless there are long rain delays, they will be assured of a defined game pattern: day after day, day off. It also means the end of “Manic Monday”, that frantic day to open the second week where all “last 16” matches, in men’s and women’s singles, are played on the same day.
The ripple effect of Manic Monday was that the women who have won their last 16 games are all expected to play two days in a row, with their quarter-finals scheduled for Tuesday. From 2022, men and women will have the same day off.
Although it has carefully kept the tradition over the years – the predominantly all-white clothing rule is still strongly enforced – Wimbledon has never been afraid to innovate and therefore Middle Sunday is also an opportunity to start from. 2022.
Just like in 1991, 1997, 2004 and 2016 – the only four years the game was held on Middle Sunday due to rain and a busy schedule – the All England Club plans to open that day at more people. .
In the years when they played Middle Sunday it was nicknamed “People’s Sunday”, and Wimbledon seeks to create that kind of atmosphere on a regular basis, most likely by making the majority of tickets available to everyone. , First served.
Kyrgios reflected on playing Middle Sunday and how it turned out to be one of his best Wimbledon memories, in fact.
“I played once on Middle Sunday,” Kyrgios said. “I had to finish my game against (Feliciano) Lopez. It was great. It was actually amazing. It was a very special game for me, one of my best games that I have played here. was cool. “