Centre Court’s retractable roof is built in two sections, one with four bays and the other with five. The TENARA Fabric was joined using high frequency welding, and is supported using ten steel trusses. The roof is typically parked with all ten trusses stacked within 300mm of each other on the north side of the court to provide the grass with sun exposure.
Building work began with the removal of the existing roof over the stands at the end of the 2006 championships. There was no roof over the stands for the 2007 event, and fixed parts of the new construction were visible the following year. The completed retractable roof structure was ready for the 2009 Championships, being unveiled in April 2009 and tested with a capacity audience during an exhibition match on 17 May 2009, featuring Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Tim Henman, and Kim Clijsters . The English have a reputation for being terribly polite and traditional, and this really shows at Wimbledon.
Especially at Centre Court Wimbledon spectators maintain silence even between points. Naturally, players bow to the Queen and the Prince of Wales when they visit. The main stadium where the tournament is held, known as Centre Court, has been greatly expanded and improved over the years. It now features a retractable, translucent roof and nearly 16,000 seats, making it one of the largest and most impressive tennis facilities in the world. There are 19 additional tournament grass courts on the club grounds, including the similarly large No. 1 Court stadium, and the smaller stadium at No. 2 Court and No. 3 Court.
Wimbledon is now the only one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments which still uses grass courts (the French Open takes place on clay courts, while the U.S. and Australian Open are on hard courts), and the Brits take their lawn maintenance incredibly seriously. Furthermore, there are no advertisements at the All England Club, as the club’s patrons are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
During the Wimbledon finals, five trusses are moved to the south side in preparation for possible operation. Wheels move along tracks to open and close the roof, aided by a series of hydraulic jacks and arms. This system opens and unfolds the fabric over the court until the two sections meet in the middle and create an overlapping, waterproof seam. The opening or closing of the roof takes less than ten minutes. After many years of debate by players, fans, media and officials that often occurred during rain delays, the All England Club finally decided to build a retractable roof to cover the entire court.