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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Wimbledon Expansion Could Extend Tournament’s Summer Footprint

  • Wimbledon is hoping to build 39 new courts, including a 8,000-seat stadium.
  • The expansion would allow the All England Club to host Wimbledon qualifying on-site.
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Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club wants to make Wimbledon even bigger — and just took a key step in its ambitious growth plans.

Wimbledon is the only one of tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments to not hold its qualifying event on site. Qualifying currently takes place several miles from the club at a venue with a capacity for 2,000 fans.

But a local council has approved plans for the club to build 39 new courts — including an 8,000-seat stadium — on the site of the former Wimbledon Park Golf Club. The All England Club purchased the neighboring land in 2018 for $79 million. If given the official green light, Wimbledon’s new qualifying space wouldn’t be ready until 2030 at the earliest.

In 2024, Wimbledon will run from July 1-14. If the All England Club could host qualifying onsite, though, it would become the epicenter of professional tennis a week earlier, when Wimbledon qualifying begins on June 24.

However, Wimbledon’s organizers have been dealing with a contractual clause that prevented “the use of the land otherwise than for leisure or recreation purposes or as an open space.” Some opposition still remains, and the All England Club’s plans could still be thwarted by another local committee or even London’s mayor.

The All England Club has promised that the new 23-acre public park will be fully accessible to the community outside the Wimbledon weeks each year. An ultimate resolution could be determined by the end of the year, although no official timeline has been guaranteed.

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