Tennis: No worries over low attendance

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon is having trouble attracting spectators this year but the All England Club seem unworried by the decline in paying guests.

Attendances in the first week of the championships were over 9,000 down on 1995, although Wimbledon did have to compete with Euro 96 fever. The crowds have dropped again this week and if the trend continues the total attendance will be the lowest for six years.

Christopher Gorringe, chief executive of the club, said: "The fact that attendances are only 4.5 per cent down on near record levels of last year is heartening, especially when considering the effects of factors such as the adverse weather, two tube strikes, the early loss of a number of star players and Euro 96."

Rain may have been a dampener for the majority of yesterday's fans, but not for those lucky enough to be able to afford champagne.

With little tennis to watch they wiled away the hours in the Champagne and Pimms bar, despite bubbly prices ranging up to pounds 55 a bottle.

"It's been one of our busiest days of the Championships," confirmed one of the under-pressure bar staff. "The first day was also hectic but not for as long as this."

Adidas are urgently ordering fresh supplies of the shirt worn by Tim Henman. Their Manchester offices have E-mailed depots in France, Germany and the United States after running out of stock three months early.

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