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June 26, 2004

Chris Gorringe

Alan Mills


CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm here to tell you, if you haven't already heard, that we are definitely going to be playing on the middle Sunday for the third time in the Championship's history. The first time was in 1991, second time was in 1997, and again in 2004. As far as the arrangements are concerned, the pure basic facts are: the gates will open at 9 o'clock, play will start on all courts at 11 o'clock. We are going to have a reduced ground capacity, therefore reduced capacity in the show courts. We are going to have 11,000 people in Centre Court. The price of the tickets will be 35 pounds each. Number 1 court, there will be 10,000 seats available at 30 pounds. Then ground admission, 7,000 of those at 15 pounds. One of the key differences from a normal day is that we have unreserved seating on the show courts. Everyone will have to come through, all the fans will have to come through the main turnstyles of Church Road through Gate 3. In order to get people into the grounds as quickly as we possibly can, with the extra security measures that are in place at this Championships, the police have decided they are going to close off part of Church Road so that we can make the most of Church Road by having extra security, extra bag searching before going through the turnstyles. What that will mean in practice is that we will have a north queue only. People will queue from Southfields direction only. There will be no through traffic along Church Road from 8 o'clock in the morning. People accessing car parks from the north will be able to go into Wimbledon Park in the normal way, of Wimbledon Park Road. Those accessing from the south will be able to still go on to the golf course, if that's their intention, or go into the Wimbledon Club. I think from the point of view of getting the message over to the fans, we are suggesting that people come who only live in the sort of London area, not traveling too far abroad afield, because of the limited number of tickets available. We are urging that people travel as lightly as possible because the more bags, more things that they carry with them, the longer it will be for them to come through the searching procedure. That is the thing that is going to delay entry into the grounds, we anticipate. So people should travel as lightly as possible, pay by cash only - which we do anyway, but that's something else, with your help, we can urge people to do; and be prepared for delays getting in. Obviously, we will be able to get people in as quickly as we possibly can.

Q. Alan, could you just clear up for us, because I understand that you said that people like Roger Federer and two or three others are a round behind. But in terms of the public wanting to know, tomorrow morning, can they expect somewhere on the schedule for Tim Henman to play?

ALAN MILLS: Oh, yes. Tim will play. I mean, basically, it's today's schedule, might not be in the same times, but it's going to be duplicated.

Q. Alan, assuming there is no play today, how many matches would we be behind?

ALAN MILLS: Approximately about, I would say about 120 if there's no play today. We've got, I would think -- we played 262 matches up until now. We should have played 376, roughly. I reckon we've got something like 300 -- over 400 matches to play sort of from now, including all the other events.

Q. Chris, what is the reason for the reduced capacity on the show courts?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: A, we are selling unreserved seating as opposed to reserved seating. We've got to have some flexibility. We don't want too many people coming tomorrow. It's normally -- I remember doing this in 1991. I think I was about the first tournament director ever urging people not to come to their event. That was certainly the case in '91 and again in '97. Last time, 1997, I remember when we had the capacity of Centre Court the same, 11,000, we sold 10,947 tickets, so we got it about right. If the day goes well, we may be able to add a few more people in. We want to satisfy the people outside but want to make it comfortable inside.

Q. Chris, what will the neighbors say?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: We know the neighbors are not keen on us playing middle Sunday. That's one of the reasons why historically we haven't played on the middle Sunday before because we realize we live in a residential area. And we have consulted the local authorities, both London Borough of Merton and the London Borough of Wandsworth, both, not just today of course, but two days ago when this was a possibility. So they understand the situation and I hope our neighbors will understand it, as well, that this is something which we, from the Club's point of view, have never wanted to do. We're having to do it in order to conclude the Championships on schedule, which is our main aim.

Q. How does this compare to '91 and '97 in terms of gravity of the situation?

ALAN MILLS: Well, as Chris said, on Centre Court we are ahead of what we were on those two occasions. But, obviously, my brief, what I like to do is make sure certain singles players play their matches on the right days and have the day off and whatever. If we didn't play tomorrow, then I think you will find some of the girls will have played Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then one day off between the semifinal and the final. I think in this sort of championship, I think that's asking a little bit too much. And if that did happen, as you know, most of the girls play doubles or doubles and mixed, and then there would be absolutely no chance of those finishing all the championship events by Sunday.

Q. Dare we ask what the weather forecast is for tomorrow.

ALAN MILLS: Much better than today.

Q. Couldn't be a lot worse.

ALAN MILLS: No, couldn't be a lot worse, no. We are very optimistic that we are going to get the majority of the day fine so we can play. Obviously a scattered shower here and there. We just hope for once in a while, Wimbledon might miss it.

Q. How much are you aiming to get play tomorrow? Are you aiming to get the entire third round of singles played tomorrow?

ALAN MILLS: Yes. I mean, at the moment, I think if you check, we had 22 singles matches on today's order of play. There will be 22 singles matches on tomorrow.

Q. So if they do get played tomorrow, will you then -- will the last 16 still be on Monday?


Q. You earlier reduced the men's doubles up to the quarterfinals to three sets. Are there any other measures along those lines that are possible or being considered?

ALAN MILLS: Start at 9 o'clock in the morning (smiling). No, not really.

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: Not serious (laughter).

ALAN MILLS: No, that wasn't serious. Not really. I think that, as you know, this year for the first time, we cut the mixed doubles down from 64 to 48. That helps in this situation a lot. We could, from when we get into the Juniors situation, we could play, like for junior doubles, play one pro set or something like that, you know. Curtail that down in the earlier rounds. That's basically all we could do.

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: The emphasis really is on the championship events. That's the crucial thing.

Q. Same order of play more or less?

ALAN MILLS: Not necessarily in the same order, but the same matches.

Q. Chris, what lessons have you learned from '91 and '97 that you've used in your planning for tomorrow?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: To be honest, I don't think we really looked too deeply at the '91 arrangements. We felt the '97 arrangements worked pretty well. The person on your right is responsible for doing all the logistics, all the arrangements. I'm surprised you haven't whispered in his ear. Richard Grier knows all about that. I think we were pretty fortunate in '97. I think one of the big differences between then and now is the heightened level of security that we're all living with, which we didn't have to the same extent in '97. I think while I'm speaking, it occurs to me, you're pretty bored on logistics things, but one thing I didn't mention. There's going to be limited car parking around. There will be no park-and-ride service for the public. Because there is just one queue coming from Southfields, we would urge fans to get out at Southfields, use public transport and get out at Southfields rather than come to Wimbledon Station and walk around to the other end of the queue and so forth. All these things we're sort of trying to push off.

Q. Chris, last time in '97, it was celebrated as a fantastic success. The people who came were slightly a different crowd - wonderful, colorful atmosphere. Was there any backlash from the neighborhoods in '97 that spoiled that for you?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: Not that I can remember. They knew then it was a one-off. It was not like a sort of middle Saturday affair. They knew it was a one-off. I think they will be upset, or could be upset, about traffic restrictions down at Church Road. I don't blame them for that. But one of the advantages of the middle Sunday, rather like the third Monday, is hopefully it can benefit the local community because they have easier access to get here and queue up for the limited tickets.

Q. I might be stating the blindly obvious, but are we to assume hell might freeze over first before this becomes a permanent fixture in the Wimbledon calendar?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: Let's see how tomorrow goes first (smiling).

Q. I mean, given that 13 other days when there's play and lots of people here, why is it so unpopular with, you know, the neighborhood, just to throw one extra day in there?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: It's not just the neighborhood issue, the fact we don't play on the middle Sunday, but that is one factor. The other factor is that we have historically got through the Championships, used to be on 12 days; now it's 13 days. We've done that pretty successfully over our history. It's only on very rare occasions do we need to have, as it were, a 14th day. More wear and tear on the grass courts. People do like a day's rest.

Q. Sure. But why does the neighborhood dislike it so much when you have to play on a middle Sunday? What is it about?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: I think chiefly there is probably all the car parking restrictions. They can't get in and out of their drives. They can't have people parking outside their houses during the 13 days of the Championships at the moment. Now if we add another day, the same car parking restrictions will apply tomorrow as it does on the following day, on a Monday. I think that's probably the main -- and if you lived next to a major event, not all of them are going to be sympathetic for that major event.

Q. Chris, you mentioned the security environment has changed between '97 and now. Ultimately, would the police have a veto over your decision when you were sitting down making it this afternoon? If they'd have said no, we don't want it for security decisions, you couldn't have gone ahead with it?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: I think they would ultimately have the control over us in terms of numbers coming into the ground. They would not wish to reduce in any way the degree of security that we have endeavored to put into the Championships so far. Any more questions? One more?

Q. Are you in favor of the kind of carnival atmosphere you can expect in tomorrow's play?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: I think it's good for Wimbledon because it so often brings a different type of person to the Championships, which is good. Introduces a new type of person. And the experiences which we've had in the past have been very, very good. So I think it should be interesting, a good day tomorrow. Much younger.

Q. What aren't spectators allowed to bring in? Flags, that sort of thing?


Q. I'm thinking back to the Ivanisevic-Rafter final when there were inflatable kangaroos and the like. Is there anything that spectators who might not normally come to Wimbledon might not be allowed to bring into the grounds?

CHRISTOPHER GORRINGE: I think there are things like large banners, claxons. I won't say kangaroos, because I know you'll write it down (laughter). We have a sort of ground entry, conditions of entry. It's all clearly stated what you can and cannot. That will be the same tomorrow as it is for the other days of the Championships. Okay. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts….

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