Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Wimbledon 2013: All-England Tennis Club fights backs over dangerous court claims

Head groundsman Neil Stubley has claimed the courts are '100%' after leading names criticise the grass surfaces

Wimbledon's head groundsman today hit back at Maria Sharapova’s claim that the courts are ‘dangerous’ by claiming that they are the best in the world and “100 per cent safe”.

Players will pay particular attention today to the surface after a dramatic day yesterday in which seven players either retired hurt or gave walkovers to their opponents.

Although Sharapova refused to use the three occasions on which she slipped over as an excuse for her defeat to Michelle Larcher De Brito in her post-match press conference, she was heard on Court Two saying “this court is dangerous” to the umpire.

But groundsman Neil Stubley, who prepared the courts for use in last year’s London Olympics but is in charge of the grounds at the Championships for the first time, said: “The courts are 100 per cent safe.

“We know the surfaces we are producing are 100 per cent. They were fine on Monday. Lleyton Hewitt played on Court Two on Monday and said it was fine which is the same court Maria was on.

“And [Murray] was in the press yesterday saying he had played on Centre and Court One and that they both felt really well. We will take the positives from the players as well. We are still fully confident coming in that we are producing the best tennis courts in the world and we will continue to do that for the rest of the Championships.

“We have prepared our grass courts the same as we have in past Championships. The grass is the same, the height of cut is the same and the firmness is the same.”

Stubley rejected the idea suggested by Larcher De Brito that there is more loose grass on the surface causing players to fall and insisted his team will not alter their methods for the rest of the tournament.

He added: “During the course of the day, the grass will wear out and there will be loose grass on the surface but it is no different to any other year.

“To say there are more loose grass cuttings on the surface [isn’t true] as we haven’t noticed that. There is nothing untoward. There is no extra wearing out of the courts and the firmness is where it should be.

“We did the prep work on the court this morning and we have not seen anything different. We expect the courts to play to their full potential as they have every other year.”