Sally Bolton on planning Wimbledon: ‘It’s all about attention to detail’

View from the Top: Responsible for planning one of the UK’s largest and most prestigious sporting events, Wimbledon’s operations director tells Andy Martin how she has modernised the Grand Slam without altering tradition

Andy Martin@andymartinink
Saturday 22 June 2019 17:44
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‘We have all this great technology now ... but it still has to feel like you’re playing tennis in an English country garden’
‘We have all this great technology now ... but it still has to feel like you’re playing tennis in an English country garden’

She looks like a tennis player. Tall and slim and athletic. Or a high jumper. I can just imagine her smashing down a final, victorious ace and leaping over the net. “I always loved sport, but, despite appearances, I was never any good,” says Sally Bolton, strategic planning and operations director at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, aka Wimbledon. “I was more into drama at school.” She starred as one of the Urchins in Oliver Twist. The tallest one.

But then Wimbledon is all about theatre, and looking the part too. “We have all this great technology now,” she says, showing me around the ivy-less building site that is Wimbledon early in the year and pointing out the new retractable roof going in over No. 1 Court. “But it’s still fundamentally white kit against green grass. It hasn’t changed that much. It still has to feel like you’re playing tennis in an English country garden.”

Sally Bolton OBE was born and brought up in Harrogate. Father from Wigan, mother from Yorkshire. Went to university in Leeds. She only moved south five years ago. “I thought I was missing out on the big adventure,” she says.

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