Tennis fans are bracing for another day of dramatic slips and trips at Wimbledon after several stars fell victim to slippery courts following several days of rain.
Andy Murray joined Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori, John Isner and Bianca Andreescu in slipping yesterday – a day after US superstar Serena Williams was forced to retire when she fell over on Centre Court and appeared to hurt her ankle.
Murray previously said after Miss Williams retired: ‘Brutal for @serenawilliams but centre court is extremely slippy out there. Not easy to move out there.’
Rain has battered the opening week of the prestigious tournament – leading to experts dubbing it the wettest Wimbledon in a decade.
However, there is some hope for fans and players today with sunny 70F weather predicted and drier spells forecast for Thursday and Friday.
Photos showed brilliant blue skies and lush green courts as action got underway on Day 4 of the Championship.
Brollies and coats were packed away and replaced by sun hats and shades as spectators enjoyed the first games of the day, while the tournament’s ‘Eco-Champions’ were out in force again, roaming the grounds to make sure the public were disposing of their plastic and paper packaging in the correct bins.
People watch a match on a giant screen in the sunshine at Wimbledon this week. The rain that has blighted the tournament’s opening week was absent today
Fans watch on during Day Four of The Championships. Sun hats and shades were the order of the day – with no sign of rain
Rain has battered the opening week of the prestigious tournament – leading to experts dubbing it the wettest Wimbledon in a decade
View across the southern outer courts towards Centre Court with the rain covers on as spectators gather under umbrellas on Monday, day one of the tournament
Spectators shelter from the rain as play is disrupted on day two of Wimbledon – leading to fears the whole first week could have been washed out
Andy Murray wincing as he slips during his second round match yesterday in which he came back from two sets down to triumph
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic slips on the grass during the men’s singles second round match against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson on Wednesday, day three of the championships
It comes after British hopeful Murray became the latest player to take a tumble during his stunning comeback win over German opponent Oscar Otte on Centre Court last night.
At one point, as he chased a lob shot from his opponent, he completely lost his footing, with his left leg straightening under him and his knee seeming to hyper-extend.
As he got back to his feet, he called out to chair umpire Aurelie Torte, telling the official the court was ‘so dangerous’.
That was his second slip of the match, after he was earlier left grabbing at his left groin following another fall – the same area he previously injured.
Murray and Coco Gauff were among those to comment on the surface yesterday, while eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer said he had previously found the surface to be more slippery when the stadium roof was shut due to a build up of humidity.
A Wimbledon spokesman has defended itself against criticism of its grass, claiming the club was satisfied with the quality of the surface and that it had been the wettest start to a tournament ‘in almost a decade’.
Mr Federer said this year’s problems are not new. ‘Those first two matches are always extremely difficult. But it’s always been like this,’ he said. ‘I feel for a lot of players, it’s super-key to get through those first two rounds because the grass is more slippery, it is more soft.
Rain and drizzle: What can Wimbledon fans expect from the forecast this week?
Torrential downpours have been forecast for Wimbledon this week, as the tennis tournament gets underway.
But what can fans expect each day?
Overcast with drizzle at first. Becoming dry during the morning. Showers slow moving and turning heavy or thundery, however sunny spells developing away from this area. Maximum temperature 71F (22C).
A cloudy day with showers, merging into longer spells of rain during the morning. Some sunshine possible later. Maximum temperature 68F (20C).
Wednesday to Friday
Generally cloudy during the mornings, improving by midday with sunnier spells in the afternoons. Dull with outbreaks of rain and drizzle early Wednesday. Occasional showers on Thursday and Friday afternoons.
Source: Met Office
‘As the tournament progresses, it usually gets harder and easier to move on.’
In 2013, several players slipped on one day, including Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, who was left injured. The day was dubbed ‘Wacky Wednesday’ by newspapers.
Mr Federer said he believed the Centre Court roof made the grass more slippy, saying: ‘I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof.
‘I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down.’
Analysing why this may be the case, Joseph Page of Joe’s Lawn Care told MailOnline: ‘Moisture is more likely to build up in an enclosed space, particularly with fans and players in there.
‘It’s a bit like being inside a greenhouse. However, there will be ventilation and air con in there so I couldn’t comment on the technicalities of this particular situation.
‘The groundsmen will be assessing everything by the hour and looking after things so well.
‘You need a higher level of moisture in the turf to keep it green in the first place, so it’s always a play off between keeping the surface moist but also dry enough so the ball can bounce.’
Miss Gauff, 17, the youngest star ranked in the top 100, struggled during her match against the Brit Francesca Jones due to the surface.
She said after she won the match: ‘Today was tough, because it was a bit slippery and I slipped a lot of times.’
Miss Williams bowed out of Wimbledon in tears after the ankle injury forced her to retire just six games into her first-round match.
Wearing a layered, floaty skirt the US superstar was overcome with emotion as she limped off Centre Court to huge applause from a sympathetic crowd.
The shock blow came after she slipped and appeared to hurt her ankle when she was 3-1 up against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.
The athlete – who was vying for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title – appeared to glare at the turf before going off court for treatment.
Although she returned ten minutes later, the pain was evident on her face as she tried to serve.
And, despite her best efforts, she decided she could go no further with the score at 3-3.
Serena Williams is one of the players to complain about the ‘slippy’ conditions at Wimbledon. She was seen falling to the ground on Centre Court on Tuesday before retiring with an ankle injury
Heather Watson and Harriet Dart of Great Britain in their ladies’ doubles first round match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia and Shuai Zhang of China with blue skies overhead
A Wimbledon spokesman has defended itself against criticism of its grass, claiming the club was satisfied with the quality of the surface and that it had been the wettest start to a tournament ‘in almost a decade’
A ball girl shelters players from the sun with an umbrella on the fourth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships
People watch a match on a giant screen outside No. 1 court on the fourth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships
Her opponent said: ‘I’m so sad for Serena. She is a great champion. It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best to her.’
France’s Adrian Mannarino also slipped on the same side of Centre Court as Miss Williams and was later forced to retire with an injury.
The 33-year-old said: ‘I just slid down and it was really slippery. I heard a big crack and I knew straight away that I wouldn’t be able to do anything any more.’
It came after a day of heavy rain saw players slipping on outside courts and play delayed or cancelled.
On Monday, play was due to start on the outside courts at 11am but downpours prompted organisers to delay proceedings, and several matches were ultimately moved to day two.
On the slippery surfaces at Wimbledon, Stephen Taylor Heath, Head of Sports Law at JMW Solicitors, told MailOnline: ‘The spectacle of top seeds literally tumbling out of Wimbledon with injury this week being blamed on slippery courts raises some interesting questions regarding legally responsibility and potential liability.
Photos showed brilliant blue skies and lush green courts as action got underway on Day 4 of the Championship
Naomi Broady (right) serves with Jodie Anna Burrage in their first round match against Viktoria Kuzmova Arantxa Rus on court 6 on day four of Wimbledon
Brollies and coats were packed away and replaced by sun hats and shades as spectators enjoyed the first games of the day
‘Should a player seek redress for their lost earnings as a result of injury preventing their progression not just in the tournament but more widely in their career they would need to look at the contractual and ‘tort’ position.
‘As a condition of entry to the event the player may have signed a contract containing various statements regarding risk that mirrors the tournament organisers insured exposure should a player seek to hold them responsible. A player would be seeking to establish an express or implied duty to present a playing environment that constituted an acceptable one for
‘Given the initial complaints the organisers were on notice of the problems but continued play. Of course the commercial pressure to do so is enormous and to declare the show court not fit for purpose would be undeniably disastrous.
‘Given the organisers had sufficient knowledge of the court being considered too slippery by the players, and had due opportunity to take reasonable steps to reduce those risks and failed to do so when not doing so would cause a foreseeable risk of injury, then they could face liability for an injury that was the direct result of those conditions.’