Wimbledon 97: Rain likely to foil Sunday plans

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The Independent Online
The London Weather Centre has become the top seed at Wimbledon. Today's forecast for tomorrow will decide whether the All England Club opens its doors to the public on a middle Sunday for only the second time in the history of the tournament.

Although the deadline is 4pm, the outlook is gloomy enough to dissuade all but the dedicated all-weather camper from contemplating a trek to SW19.

Those who have trudged the soggy grounds during the past couple of days will not be surprised to learn that they have participated in the wettest first week on record. Indeed, when hope of play was abandoned at 6.30 pm last night, it was the first time there had been a wash-out on two consecutive days since 1909.

Only 94 matches have been completed so far. In 1991, the previous wettest opening week, 123 matches had been completed by the end of the first Friday.

That was the occasion of "People's Sunday", when Wimbledon welcomed the public on a first come, first served basis at a flat rate of pounds 10. The decision was taken on the Friday evening, after a far more optimistic weather forecast than the one expected this afternoon.

The one-off middle Sunday experiment was a huge success, and a vast improvement in the weather during the final five days allowed the championships to be completed on schedule.

Chris Gorringe, the All England Club's chief executive, was asked what the worst scenario would be if the rain continues into next week. "That we would not get through the championships," he said.

Tim Henman, the British No 1, said: "It is depressing for us. It is depressing for everyone who turns up here. You feel particularly sorry for all the people that are outside, because it is so frustrating for them."

Kramer's return, page 29