Almost two years since Novak Djokovic’s thrilling tie-break victory over Roger Federer, in the 2019 men’s finals, Wimbledon is back. The tournament begins on 28 June and, though many things will look the same, there are a few differences too.
The championships are taking place as a government test event – a pilot used to gather scientific data on easing restrictions after lockdown. The government has allowed the All England Club to admit 21,000 spectators each day – half its normal capacity. Centre Court crowds of 15,000 will, however, be allowed for the women’s and men’s finals.
Face coverings will be required while moving around the grounds, but not when seated. Food and drink outlets will be open with social distancing in place.
One Wimbledon tradition we won’t be seeing is the famous queue. All tickets are being sold online and ticket holders need proof of their Covid status – showing they have had both vaccinations or a negative test result. Plans to have the big screen available for fans to watch from Henman Hill are also being made.
An advantage of living in Wimbledon is player and celebrity spotting during the championships. This may be a little difficult as all the competitors will stay in a bubble at the club or designated hotels. Autograph hunting and player selfies won’t be allowed court-side either.
When it comes to the all-important matches, we won’t be seeing Rafael Nadal on court this year, following his withdrawal from the contest. With concerns over Roger Federer’s fitness, commentators are on the look-out for someone to challenge Djokovic. Andy Murray will be back competing in the singles competition for the first time since 2017, following two operations.
Those tipped to make an impression include 22-year-old, third seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and 25-year-old Italian, Matteo Berrettini, ranked ninth.
In the women’s game, Naomi Osaka has also withdrawn from the competition and there are fitness concerns around defending 2019 champion Simona Halep and world number one Ashleigh Barty.
Could this be the year that Serena Williams finally breaks her record of 23 grand slam titles? Other names to watch inched Polish teenager Iga Swiatek and America’s Coco Gauff who made the fourth round as a 15-year-old in 2019.
Read more about the build-up to Wimbledon in the Independent.