Tuesday Dec. 16, 2008
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- The first match under the new retractable roof of Wimbledon's Centre Court will be played on May 17th. That's about five weeks before the start of the Grand Slam tournament.
In a statement announcing the match, the All England club says the event is designed "to test the new roof and air conditioning system." The sliding roof will help alleviate Wimbledon's perennial rain delays.
The Daily Mail newspaper reports that four-time Wimbledon semifinalist Tim Henman may take part in the opening event. The popular Englishman retired from competitive tennis in 2007.
The traditional roof overhang on Centre Court was removed after the 2006 tournament, leaving the grass surface more open to the elements in 2007. The overhang was back in 2008, along with 1,200 extra seats. The Wimbledon tournament will be held June 22-July 5.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)