Phones and tablets to be allowed at Wimbledon so fans can follow World Cup
The men’s singles final at Wimbledon is likely to overlap with the World Cup final.
Wimbledon fans on Centre Court will be allowed to use phones and tablets to follow the World Cup final, the head of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has said.
The men’s singles final, scheduled to begin at the traditional time of 2pm on Sunday, will not be moved to avoid a clash with the climax of the football tournament, organisers have confirmed.
Wimbledon rules state phones, tablets and radios must be switched off “in and around the courts in play”.
However Richard Lewis, chief executive of AELTC, indicated the conditions of entry would be relaxed as the two sporting events go head-to-head, with use of electronic devices permitted if they do not cause disruption.
On Saturday, a stream of ticket-holders left the tennis club for nearby pubs to watch England’s triumphant quarter-final after Wimbledon bosses opted not to show the game on the big screen, while others gathered around iPads and phones on site.
Mr Lewis, who described it as “one of the special days at the Championships”, said: “We had superb tennis going on and we were benefiting from modern technology where people were able to follow the football and enjoy it, without disturbing other people.
“And I thought that went really well.”
He acknowledged people were using smartphones on Centre Court on Saturday, adding: “Our attitude is if people aren’t affecting other people’s enjoyment of the tennis, which they weren’t, because they’ve got it on silent or whatever, or they are listening with an earphone, or whatever, that’s fine.”
Despite the possible clash, with the World Cup final due to kick off at 4pm, Mr Lewis said the stands would be “packed” and spectators could use “modern technology” to follow the football at the same time.
He denied that this represented a relaxation of rules, which he said refer to mobile phone calls, talking loudly, and behaviour which causes disruption to the tennis and spectators.
“It’s a completely different issue,” he said.
“For many years now we’ve had people using iPhones, or phones, mobile phones, tablets.
“We’ve installed public WiFi, very strong WiFi signal. The WiFi signal, by the way, worked brilliantly on Saturday.”
He added: “If you are not disturbing anybody and people aren’t being disturbed, which they weren’t this last Saturday and I’m sure they won’t be on Wednesday and hopefully the same thing will apply on Sunday, then it’s a different issue.”
Fans will be treated to a hectic day of tennis at SW19 on Monday, with defending champion Roger Federer, world number one Rafael Nadal and three-time champion Novak Djokovic all due to play.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams – chasing an eighth Wimbledon singles title – will play fellow mother Evgeniya Rodina.
Williams, whose daughter Olympia is 10 months old, tweeted that she cried after missing her baby’s first steps because of training on Saturday.
It will be another scorching day for spectators, with highs of 30C (86F) forecast.
DUP leader Arlene Foster and Olympic medallists Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Ben Ainslie are among those in the Royal Box.