Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hawk-Eye to be used at Wimbledon

The Hawk-Eye replay system, which has been used at the US Open and Australian Open, amongst other tournaments, will be used at Wimbledon this year. I'm pleasantly surprised by this development, as I would have thought that Wimbledon would be the last to embrace this technology. Hawk-Eye will be available on Centre Court and Court 1, while the existing Cyclops technology will be moved to Courts 2, 14 and 18. Cyclops, which has been used at Wimbledon since 1980, is a system of infrared beams which helps determine if serves are in or out.

I suppose now was a perfect time as any to add Hawk-Eye onto Centre Court, especially in light of the need to integrate video screens into the statium. Because of the redevelopment of Centre Court, the task of fitting the video screens onto this court is made much less difficult.

The current Centre Court redevelopment, announced in 2004 as the latest chapter of Wimbledon's Long Term Plan, features a retractable roof, as well as increased seating capacity. Since it was unfeasible to do all this in one year, development was phased in the following manner:

April 2006• New Museum opened
July 2006 onwards• Demolition of East Stand and offices
• Removal of existing roof
• Piling and construction of new East Stand frame and floors
2007 Championships• No roof
• Extra six rows of terracing completed
• Centre Court Debenture facilities relocated
July 2007 onwards to include 2008 Championships• East Stand building finished and useable for 2008 Championships
• New fixed roof in place
• Centre Court Debenture Rooms reconstructed
July 2008 onwards• Completion of moving roof trusses
• Erection and completion of moving roof
• Fit fabric covering to sliding roof
• Commissioning and testing of roof and environment of Centre Court
• Hard landscaping, including Tea Lawn
• Construction of new Gatehouses at Gates 4 and 5
2009 Championships• All works finished and ready

Most notably, one will notice that there is no roof on Centre Court during this year's Championships. For all intents and purposes, Centre Court will be 'naked'. It will be a unique sight, as Centre Court has always had some type of roof during its entire 85 years of existence. In 2008, the new fixed roof (the non-moving part of the retractable roof) will be in place, and by 2009, the roof will be complete with its retractable section. The days of rain cancelling a day of play at Wimbledon will soon be a thing of the past!

The above changes to Centre Court will be accompanied by changes on the grounds. A new Court No. 2 will also be built in time for 2009. Dubbed "the graveyard of champions", the intimate show court will be moved from its current spot near Centre Court to the back of the grounds, where the current Court No. 13 is located. A new Court No. 3 will eventually be built at the current Court No. 2 location, with Courts 4-11 realigned to allow for wider walkways.

While Wimbledon and the Championships remain seeped in tradition, it is nice to see that they are expanding and enhancing their grounds with a view for the future.

For more information about the Wimbledon's Centre Court redevelopment, take a look at 'The Long Term Plan'. New grounds expansion can be found at the press release 'Go-Ahead for New No.2 Court'. Additional information about Hawk-eye can be found at my previous blog postings 'Technology in Tennis: Hawk-eye','Hawk-eye use at the Australian Open' and 'Hawk-eye Technology and Grass Tennis Courts'.

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