30 June 2021
The Wimbledon tennis championship in London has been marked by wet weather and slippery conditions.
The famous tennis competition, one of four major championships in the sport, started Monday.
Early in the week, top-ranked player Novak Djokovic fell and landed on his backside two times. He was not injured.
But on Day 2, Roger Federer's opponent, Adrian Mannarino, lost his footing, too. He was not so lucky. The Frenchman's 33rd birthday ended with a knee injury and a loss because he was too hurt to continue.
That also happened to tennis star Serena Williams on Tuesday. It was her latest attempt to tie the record for major tennis championship wins with 24. But the game left her crying after just 30 minutes. She injured her right leg when her left shoe lost footing in almost the same place that Mannarino had. She told the press that she was heartbroken to have to leave the competition.
All those games were played with the stadium's movable roof closed because of rain. And that is what the All England Club blames for how slippery the grass has been. The All England Club is a sports membership group that has supervised Wimbledon since the competition began in the 19th century. The club said the two opening days this year have been the wettest ones of Wimbledon in almost 10 years.
Keeping the roof closed for a long period leads to wetter grass, the club said in a statement. It was released after Williams and Mannarino got hurt and left the competition.
Federer told the Associated Press that the courts do seem a little more slippery under the roof. "You do have to move very, very carefully out there." If you push too hard at the wrong times, "you do go down," he said.
Federer is an eight-time Wimbledon champion. "I do feel it's drier during the day. With the wind and all that stuff, it takes the (wetness) out of the grass."
The club's statement added that the grass has been prepared with the same level of care as in past years.
Wimbledon's courts are removed each year and new grass is planted. Neil Stubley leads the club's court preparation efforts. Before the competition on Monday, he said the club did all the usual preparations even though Wimbledon did not happen in 2020.
The grass does have a little more wetness on the surface during the start of the competition, the club said in its statement. It added that, with each game played, the courts will continue to get firmer.
Federer offered a similar reaction.
He knows the space well, having first played at Wimbledon in 1999 and first won in 2003.
For a lot of the players, he said, it is important to get through those first two rounds, because that is when the grass is slippery. "It is more soft," he said. But as the competition progresses, the grass usually gets "harder and easier to move on."
I'm Alice Bryant.
The Associated Press reported this story. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in This Story
knee –n. the joint that bends in the middle of the leg
tie –v. to make the score or competition record equal
stadium –n. a large building with a large field and seating around it for sports and other events
roof –n. the cover on top of a building or vehicle
slippery –adj. difficult to stand or move on because of smoothness, wetness or ice
court –n. a flat surface where certain games like tennis or basketball are played
round –n. a stage in a competition in which a player or team must win to continue to the next stage