There are many traditions at Wimbledon: the white clothing, the no advertising and the strawberries and cream to name but a few. But there is one tradition that needs to be eliminated: Middle Sunday, the seventh day of the tournament. MS is unique among all of tennis’ majors. It is the only day over the two week tournament that no play is held. The grounds come to a halt. This may seem like a remotely good idea to catch up on the fever created during the previous week, to sit back, rest and reflect on the week that was, but it inevitably is a ridiculous idea. Even with the retractable Centre Court roof, rain can disrupt the schedule and create turmoil for not only the players, but for the organizers as well.
When I first started to pay attention to Wimbledon, I thought the practice of Middle Sunday was put in place for religious reasons. Then I started to believe that it was put in place to actually give everyone in the tournament a day of rest. Then I started to believe that the small town’s council in which Wimbledon resides forces the organizers to stop play for a day to allow them a day of rest of all the hustle and bustle. Then I started to believe that in order to maintain the prestigious grass courts, the organizers wanted to stop play for a day in order to heal the grass and stop the beating of it by the players.
The problem is that these are all insinuations. I have yet to hear or read anything concrete or official from Wimbledon itself as to why there is a Middle Sunday. It’s as if Wimbledon the entity is a secret order of Masons or Stonecutters that hold every little secret close to their chests; as if revealing them would cause the walls of Centre Court to come crashing down. Below is a great article on Middle Sunday – the closest explanation of the most mysterious day in all of tennis:
By having a Middle Sunday, especially in a tournament in an area that is prone to bad weather, Wimbledon shoots themselves, the players and the fans in the foot. The retractable roof was supposed to solve the rain delays and the backlog of postponed matches. It hasn’t. This year, by not playing on Middle Sunday, third round matches that should have been completed on Saturday had to completed on Monday (Manic Monday as it is known) because all 16 round of 16 men’s and women’s matches are supposed to be played. Under normal circumstances, the women’s quarterfinals follow on Tuesday with the semifinals on Thursday and the final on Saturday. The men’s quarterfinals are held on Wednesday, the semifinals on Friday and the final on Sunday.
With no play on Middle Sunday, half of the women’s quarterfinals played on Tuesday with the other half on Wednesday, meaning the women who played Wednesday have no day of rest going into their semifinals. The same is true for the men. Half of the men’s draw played Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with no day of rest going into their quarterfinals. How is that fair? It isn’t.
Also, Wimbledon is losing a ton of money by not playing on Middle Sunday. The television, ad and patron revenue must be of no concern to them. I have an idea: if it really is the town council that is in control of Middle Sunday, give them a share of the profits from Middle Sunday to shut them… errrr, keep them happy. Fans want to see live tennis – not a pre-recorded package of matches that have already been played.
The argument of not further damaging the courts doesn’t hold much water either. Have the organizers seen the condition of the courts recently? They are basically dirt at the baseline – which is where most of the action is played from anyway. You can’t grow grass from a patch of dirt in the middle of a tournament, so your actions of trying to save what’s left is something reminiscent of a sketch from Fawlty Towers.
The players need to band together to get rid of Middle Sunday. It is for their best interests and the interests of Wimbledon.
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