July 24, 2024

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Sally Bolton, the chief executive of the All England Club, has blamed the “terrible” weather on lower attendance figures for Wimbledon after nearly a month’s worth of rain fell on the tournament in its first week.

Attendance in the first week of the championships dropped to 282,955 visitors, almost 4% fewer than the 293,681 who came in the same period last year.

Fewer tennis fans passed through the gates of SW19 every day last week compared with 2023, except on Tuesday when the two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray had been due to play his first-round singles match.

Wimbledon was deluged by half a month’s worth of rain in a single day on Friday as it recorded the lowest day five attendance since 1998, excluding 2021 when visitor numbers were capped due to Covid restrictions. On Friday, when the Met Office recorded 26.6mm of rain at nearby Kew Gardens, 36,630 tennis fans went to the tournament compared with 42,279 on the same day in 2023.

Bolton said the unpredictability of the weather had made it the most challenging tournament to schedule since she took up her post in 2020. There were only two dry days in the first week and 79 matches were cancelled from Friday to Sunday either due to the rain or player injuries.

Bolton blamed the dip in numbers on the weather but said that Wimbledon accepted that attendance figures would fluctuate due to tickets being held back for its famous queue.

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