Why don’t they play on Sunday at Wimbledon? The ‘Middle Sunday’ tradition explained

Updated: 24/05/2022

Wimbledon 2019 is well underway, coming up on its first weekend at the time of writing. So that means a chock full weekend of tennis action, right?.

Not so.

As is now tradition at the championships, no play will take place on the middle Sunday of the tournament.

But why is this the case, what’s the history of Middle Sunday at the world’s oldest tennis tournament, and what is ‘People’s Sunday’?

  • The full Wimbledon 2019 men’s singles draw
  • The full Wimbledon 2019 women’s singles draw
  • Men’s seeds for Wimbledon 2019
  • Women’s seeds for Wimbledon 2019
  • Wimbledon weather forecast – week 1

What is People’s Sunday?

It’s always been tradition that no play shall be held at Wimbledon on the Middle Sunday of the championships.

That unwritten rule was always in place, simply so that the structure of the championships meant the final could be played on a Monday if bad weather halted the schedule earlier in the tournament.

But in 1991, the All-England Club decided that in the event of extreme weather conditions, play could be permitted on the seventh day of the tournament.

When that happens, it’s what is known as a ‘People’s Sunday’, and the decision to hold an extra day is only taken when torrential rain or other weather factors means it takes a whole week to complete the first round.

It’s a rare occurrence – a People’s Sunday has only taken place four times in the tournament’s history, in 1991, 1997, 2004 and 2016 – and with roofs installed on both Centre Court and Court 1, the likelihood of precipitation affecting players is even smaller.

Will there be a People’s Sunday in 2019?

At the time of writing, the weather forecast for SW19 suggests that there won’t be a People’s Sunday in 2019.

The Met Office forecast no rain between now and Sunday, and so it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the need for play to take place.

What happens if there is a People’s Sunday?

The declaration of a People’s Sunday usually comes with a mad dash for tickets, with thousands of extra spots around Wimbledon’s various courts up for grabs at the last minute.

People’s Sundays give tennis fans who missed out on tickets in the initial ballot an opportunity to watch some live matches – the usual alternative is to brave long queues, and even camp out overnight.

In 2016, all 22,000 tickets were sold out in less than half-an-hour, as over 100,000 tennis fans vied to get their hands on one.

10,000 Centre Court tickets were put on sale at £70 per person, 8,000 £40 tickets were available for Court One, and 4,000 ground passes costing £20 each were also up for grabs.

What is the Wimbledon 2019 schedule?

The tournament runs from Monday 1 July to Sunday 14 July, this after the qualifying competition at the Bank of England Sports Centre between Monday 24 June and Thursday 27 June.

Women’s singles quarter-finals: Tuesday 9 July

Men’s singles quarter-finals: Wednesday 10  July

Women’s singles semi-finals: Thursday 11 July

Men’s singles semi-finals: Friday 12 July

Women’s singles final: Saturday 13 July

Men’s singles final: Sunday 14 July

How can I watch it on TV?

Wimbledon will be broadcast live on BBC One, BBC Two and the BBC Red Button, and available to stream online via BBC iPlayer.

This post first appeared here

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