Wimbledon of the future is not a pretty sight but the new No 1 court sh ould be complete by 1997

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The Independent Online
What you see is the transformation of Aorangi Park, an area of the All England Club's grounds remembered for the picnics and corporate hospitality marquees which complement the annual fortnight of tennis, writes John Roberts.

Here, the Wimbledon of the future is taking shape. The massive hole in the ground surrounded by cranes is the site of a new No 1 Court, scheduled for completion in time for the 1997 championships.

Phase one of the designers' romantic brief, "Tennis in an English Garden", will provide the most striking feature of a redevelopment project continuing into the 21st century at an estimated cost of £100m-plus.

The new all-seater, oval show court will have a capacity of 11,500, whereas the exisiting No 1 Court, which backs on to the Centre Court, seats 6,500 and has standing room for 820.

After one year's play on the new court, the club propose to demolish the existing No 1 Court and replace it with a new building, chiefly to house the players and the media, with underground links to the two main show courts.

In the meantime, the construction work will be suspended a month or two before the championships take place, and the club will endeavour to promote an atmosphere of business as usual.

The corporate hospitality marquees and public catering services will be relocated, temporary buildings and walkways will be placed around the site, and a viewing platform will be erected to enable visitors to inspect the progress of the new court.

Aorangi Park is accustomed to change. Sport was first played on the site by the Argyle Athletic Association in 1906. Later, before being brought into the perimeters of the All England Club, it was the home of the New Zealand Sports and Social Club.

Aorangi? It means "cloud in the sky" and is the Maori name for Mount Cook.

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