For all of the pandemic-related planning discussed for this year's return of Wimbledon — much still to be determined, including fan capacity and prize money — Tuesday's biggest news out of the All England Club takes effect in 2022: There will be play on the Grand Slam tournament's middle Sunday.
In addition to creating a 14-day event by eliminating the traditional break at the midpoint, the historic decision forever alters what has come to be known as “Manic Monday,” the opening of Week 2 that made Wimbledon the only major tennis championship with all 16 women's and men's fourth-round singles matches scheduled for the same day.
Instead, under a plan organizers “intend to make a permanent part of the schedule,” the fourth round will be split between Sunday and Monday next year, All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said during a video conference.
Next year marks a century since Centre Court was opened in 1922. Middle Sunday has hosted competition only four times, when rain disrupted the schedule and created a backlog of matches: in 1991, 1997, 2004 and 2016.
“We want more of this wonderful event to be available to more people,” chief executive Sally Bolton said.
The additional ticket and concession sales that become available probably will be appreciated by the club, too.
Both of those categories will drop in 2021 because of restrictions still in place amid the coronavirus pandemic, which wiped out Wimbledon completely a year ago. That was the first time since World War II the grass-court tournament was not held, but the club held cancellation insurance that paid 180 million pounds ($250 million), Hewitt said.
This year's Wimbledon singles main draw is scheduled for June 28 to July 11.