Originally created 06/27/04

Weather forces Sunday action



WIMBLEDON, England - Wimbledon organizers scheduled play on the middle Sunday for only the third time in the tournament's 127-year history as rain washed out all matches for the second time this week.

A steady drizzle delayed the start of play at 11:15 a.m. and continued all afternoon. Organizers waited until 6:35 p.m. to call off all matches.

Earlier, All England Club chief executive Christopher Gorringe announced that play will be held today - traditionally a rest day in the two-week championships - to reduce the backlog.

The last time that happened was in 1997, after no matches were played on the Thursday and Friday of the first week because of rain. The only other time matches were held on the middle Sunday was in 1991.

"Ultimately it's the club that makes the decision, but obviously we need to work with a lot of key people like the police and like the local authority," Gorringe said. "It's obviously a huge inconvenience for a lot of people."

Rain delayed play Monday and Tuesday, and all matches were wiped out Wednesday in the first Wimbledon washout since 1997.

Today, a total of 28,000 tickets - 11,000 for Centre Court, 10,000 for Court 1 and 7,000 for the outside courts - will be on sale at the gates on a first-come, first-served basis.

Play is scheduled to begin on all courts at 11 a.m.

The decision clears the way for another so-called "People's Sunday" - with Wimbledon packed with thousands of fans who wouldn't normally have access to tickets.

Prices are $64 for tickets on Centre Court, $55 for Court 1 and $27 for the outside courts.

"I think it's good for Wimbledon because it so often brings a different type of person to the championships, which is good," Gorringe said.

"The experiences which we've had in the past have been very, very good. It should be very interesting and a good day tomorrow. Much younger."

Most of the initial backlog was erased Thursday and Friday, with the tournament only six singles matches behind schedule after five days.

If no matches were played today, tournament referee Alan Mills said, some women would have to play on each of the first four days of next week and have only one day off between the semifinals and final.