"Common sense prevailed" over Murray 11pm curfew at Wimbledon
No action will be taken against the All England Club after an 11pm curfew was broken during Andy Murray’s match on Centre Court on Saturday.
Merton Council’s leader, Stephen Alambritis, said that “flexibility and common sense prevailed” after Murray’s win against Marcos Baghdatis finished at 11.02pm, the latest ever finish to a match at the Wimbledon championships.
Coun Alambritis said: “We were in touch with the All England Club from 10pm onwards and there were discussions between our planning officers and the tournament director.
“We have always said these prearrangements were to be used with discretion, so I was pleased flexibility and common sense prevailed, because we have a duty to both the residents as well as the tennis.”
The council came under fire from former tennis champions John McEnroe and Tim Henman during their match commentary, after Murray was put in the bizarre situation of having to win one game to beat Baghdatis as the clock struck 11pm.
If the match had not finished, the players would have had to come back to finish the match on Monday.
Coun Alambritis added he understood McEnroe's concern: "I was on the phone a couple of times that night and it would have been nice to share those discussions with Mr McEnroe.
"He is obviously someone who is 100 per cent in love with tennis and would have been happy to go until 2am."
The council’s 11pm curfew was imposed when it granted planning permission for Centre Court’s new roof in June 2004.
To manage the environment within Centre Court while the roof is on, a temporary plant was also needed - consisting of nine electric chiller units, six generators and two oil storage tanks - in order to pump air into the stadium at a rate of eight litres per second.
The planning committee’s report at the time said: “The temporary plant hereby approved shall only be operated during the Wimbledon Tennis Championship period other than for testing immediately prior to the championships, and shall not be operated prior to 0800 hours or later than 2300 hours, or one hour after the finish of the last match on any day, whichever is the earlier.”
This is done “in order to protect the amenities of nearby residents”.
The same 2004 report highlighted concerns from residents that having a roof at Wimbledon would lead to the All England Club hosting non-tennis events.