Wimbledon roof debut sold out

2009-03-12 19:52

London - Tickets for the first match to be played under the roof at Wimbledon's centre court sold out five minutes after going on sale here Thursday, ground authorities said.

Husband-and-wife team Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, both former Wimbledon champions, will be the star attractions when the roof is officially opened on May 17.

Kim Clijsters and recently-retired British favourite Tim Henman will also play in the Centre Court Celebration, designed to test the new roof and air management system in front of a 15,000 crowd ahead of this year's championships.

Ian Ritchie, Chief Executive of the All England Club, the owners of Wimbledon, said: "The demand for tickets was truly exceptional and we are delighted to have a capacity Centre Court crowd for a great day on May 17."

The programme will feature men's and ladies' singles and a mixed doubles match all played to the pro-set format -- the first to eight games, with a tie-break at 8-8.

Wimbledon, now the only one of tennis's four Grand Slam events -- the others are the Australian Open, French Open and US Open -- to be played on grass, is routinely plagued by rain interruptions.

But it is hoped the introduction for the first time of a retractable roof on the main show court will help prevent a backlog of matches that would otherwise be delayed by bad weather.