On a day which can only be described as a huge success for the All England Club, the new Centre Court roof received a huge vote of confidence from Tim Henman, Kim Clijsters, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf after their exhibition matches.
“So far as the playing conditions are concerned there was no real effect,” Henman said. “Maybe the ball goes through the air a very little bit quicker because it’s warmer, but the difference was so small. I have only good positive things to say.
“The light was excellent. There was so much natural light coming through. That said, we were on the Centre Court a couple of weeks ago at 9pm testing the lights then – how they shone in different areas and so on. The light was fantastic. Even at those times, it will not be an issue.”
What all four agreed upon, and were particularly struck by, was the sound. Agassi called it “magnificent” and the others could not fault it.
“I loved that,” said Clijsters. “It has always felt on the Centre court as if the old roof brought the sound of the crowd down on to the court, but now with the new roof it feels as if the crowd is right there next to you on the court.”
Henman went so far as to say that the roof might create an even better Centre Court crowd atmosphere than before.
“That’s saying something when this is already the best and most famous court in the world, but I’m intrigued to see what level the atmosphere might go to,” mused Henman. “Given the right scenarios with the right match and players, it could be really something.”
Agassi and Graf agreed, with the former speaking for both of them when he said: “I was a little worried the roof being closed would create a level of moisture and make the court slippery but I was really impressed with how solid it felt. It means you’ll be able to push yourself more on your shots, because you can be certain of how the court will play. I loved it.”