Wimbledon: No 1 court roof unveiled with star-studded ceremony

19 May 2019, 14:31 | Updated: 19 May 2019, 19:31

Some of tennis' greatest players went head to head under the new roof at No 1 Court in Wimbledon.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club unveiled the fully retractable roof on top of its second biggest court in a star-studded ceremony featuring the likes of Paloma Faith and players including Pat Cash, Jamie Murray and Venus Williams.

The roof was built on a budget of £70m and took three years to complete.It will enable more matches to be played for longer if weather conditions turn during the club's Wimbledon Grand Slam tournament.

The roof was needed for the opening ceremony as rainfall swept across SW19 on Sunday afternoon.

On Twitter the club joked: "It's a good thing we've got a second roof."

Jamie Murray teamed up with Goran Ivanisevic to take on Pat Cash and Lleyton Hewitt in an opening doubles match under the roof.

Venus Williams then played Kim Clijsters before Clijsters and John McEnroe joined up in mixed doubles, with Murray and Martina Navratilova as challengers.

Ivanisevic joked that he won Wimbledon because there was no roof, telling the BBC: "Now they call me to open the roof - great!"

The new roof takes about 10 minutes to close, and then the air conditioning needs another 20 minutes to acclimatise the arena for indoor play.

Adding the roof has allowed the club to put about 1,000 extra seats in the court and replace the current seats with wider and better padded ones.

Speaking about the court after the matches, Navratilova told Sky News: "You almost don't care if you don't play on centre because the atmosphere is so good, so that levels the field more.

"Fans there (on no 1 court) can be more emotional, more into it, more true fans."

She said the roof would take the pressure off organisers, and called it an "engineering marvel".

She said: "They had to reinforce the courts that they are on because it's so heavy.

"They had to build a special crane to put it up there."

She also told Sky she hoped Andy Murray would play the championship again, but that he should "take his time".

Hewitt said he got goosebumps playing on the court and called it "electrifying".

Of the former British number one, he said: "I would like to hope Andy will be back. The last six to 12 months will have been hard, not able to train as hard as he would like but I have no doubt he will do everything in his power to be back.

"He's been fantastic for the sport, a great ambassador."

Doubles player Jamie Murray, whose early exit in Rome allowed him to commit to the opening of the roof, said it was "awesome" and called it "really cool" to be involved in the celebration event.

He said: "I'm pretty sure [Andy] wants to play here again.

"I'm pretty sure he's on track with his recovery timing wise. He's doing fine, pain free and much happier."

He confirmed he has been playing golf regularly with his brother, saying that was the "main competition".

On whether or not they would ever play together again he said: "we do want to play doubles again together but it depends on situation in both our careers.

"There's years in my career before I stop, Wimbledon will be the biggest goal in my career, and right now Andy is not the best place to help me get there."