This year’s Wimbledon Championships are set to be the hottest in the tournament’s 141-year history, with the possibility that play will be suspended for women due to the exceptionally high heat.
Yesterday marked the second hottest opening day in the history of the tournament, with temperatures hitting the 29C mark.
And with the All England Club expecting highs of 32C as well as exceptionally humid nights this week, there is a very strong chance of temperatures exceeding the 14-day tournament average of 25.4C, the record set at the 1976 event.
“Monday was the second highest opening day of play every recorded at Wimbledon, although remained short of the hottest individual day, which was July 1, 2015 when temperatures reached 35.7C,” a spokesperson for the Met Office told The Independent.
“Wimbledon fans should be prepared for a lot of hot sunshine, particularly in the first week. And with more sunshine forecast across the next two weeks, it is very possible temperatures could exceed the two-week average record set in 1976.
“We would advise spectators to wear sun cream and a hat, drink plenty of water throughout the day and make use of shaded areas whenever possible.”
First-aid staff are on standby to treat spectators should they begin to suffer in the heat, with 123 fans requiring treatment during the scorching 2015 Championships for ailments including dehydration, heat exhaustion and sun burn. Australian Bernard Tomic needed treatment after feeling dizzy due to the heat, while a ball boy was hospitalised.
A Wimbledon spokesperson told The Independent: “We send out an information pack to every spectator which includes details on what people should bring in various different weather conditions. We have also been reminding people on social media to bring suncream and water.
“We have 87 water refill points around the site, which is an 83 per cent increase from last year, and there is a pharmacy on site which sells suncream and refillable water bottles to spectators. There are a number of shady areas and cover for people to sit in, should the temperature become very hot.
“There is also provision for first aid as needed.”
There remains the possibility that matches will be suspended if temperatures continue to rise, with a ‘Heat Rule’ in operation at The Championships.
“The heat rule allows a 10-minute break between the second and third set when the heat stress index is at or above 30.1 degrees Celsius,” the WTA said in a statement.
“It only applies to ladies’ and girls’ singles matches that have not yet been called to court. Only one of the players participating in the match needs to request the break for the rule to be implemented.”
It has been implemented at The Championships just twice before – on 23 July 2006 and 30 June 2009 — and is not in place for the men.
“I wouldn’t mind a break for the guys,” US player Sam Querrey admitted after his 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Australia’s Jordan Thompson.
“It’s hot out here today. Usually you don’t see guys fatigue as easily at Wimbledon on the grass. The points are much shorter and so the heat is not as big of an issue here as it is at maybe the French Open or US Open or Australian Open.”
But last year’s runner-up Marin Cilic, who began his 2018 campaign with a straight-sets victory over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, suggested the rule was unnecessary in the gentlemen’s singles.
“Maybe the rule would help in some cases where the humidity is big,” the Croat said. “For example at the US Open the temperature can often reach around 29C, 30C and it is unbearable because the court is like cement. Everything gets so hot.
“It is a lot more difficult there than it is here. I feel here is quite comfortable, even though it is hot and not so easy, but I do not feel it is too bad. So I think it is better that it stays like this.”
Temperatures at the All England Club are today expected to reach 26C, with unbroken sunshine forecast for the morning and into the afternoon.