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Wimbledon men miss out on heat break offered to women as temperatures soar

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard tries to keep cool during a break in her singles match yesterday
Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard tries to keep cool during a break in her singles match yesterday
Eamonn Holmes
Caroline Wozniacki in action last night
Claire Curran
TV presenter Alex Jones

By Joanne Sweeney

Wimbledon has started and already there's a battle of the sexes that even the best umpire would have trouble refereeing.

And it has nothing to do with the traditional rows over prize money or the difference between service speeds of men and women.

As a heatwave prepares to ramp up temperatures at SW19, a rule has been introduced that allows women singles players to take a 10-minute break from their game.

Now Northern Ireland's only professional Wimbledon player Claire Curran has questioned why the rule has been introduced for women tennis players and not men, as temperatures that threaten to hit a record high of 38C are predicted.

The now-retired Belfast doubles star says the unusual new ruling is likely to be welcomed by the women in order to protect their health - and their careers.

The mercury hit 30C but it is predicted that today will be even hotter with the potential to go to all the way to 38C - that's 100 degrees Fahrenheit - in the heatwave hitting the UK.

Claire, who played for Ireland and Great Britain in the Fed Cup, told the Belfast Telegraph the ruling was introduced for women as their body composition was more prone to the effects of heat than men's.

The 37-year-old mother-of-three said: "The heat break rule was first brought in at the Australian Open this year as there were a lot of casualties on the court - so from that aspect I think Wimbledon is being cautious.

"But the question is, why is it different for the male players, as they are playing five sets while the women are playing a maximum of three?

"If the heat rule is enforced I think the women players will be thinking purely of themselves and will absolutely take advantage of it, because it's the best thing for their health.

"I think the question is more, do the men feel slightly aggrieved that they don't have it?

"It will be interesting to see if, without it, the men will have any problems this year at Wimbledon in the predicted heatwave."

Claire said that the levels of humidity in London would not be as uncomfortable for some of the top-ranked players, as they are used to playing in the US and Asia.

She added: "The top players will be very well adapted to playing in such heat, so I don't think anyone will pipe up and say anything about it.

"That's unless Andy Murray goes on court and is affected by heat stroke - you can expect objections to be raised then."

Claire retired from the game in 2007 after a successful professional career and took up coaching. In 2006 she reached a career-high world ranking 89 in the doubles.

She now works for the Lawn Tennis Association with up and coming young British tennis stars such as Heather Watson and Laura Robson.

The Women's Tennis Association asked for the 10-minute break rule to be made available to ladies playing singles matches if the court became unbearably hot.

It should take place between the second and third set when the heat stress index - a measure which takes into account air temperature, humidity and surface temperature - is at or above 30.1C.

However, the men's game has no equivalent rule, and the All England Club is under no obligation to create one.

A spokesman said the decision was in the hands of the separate governing bodies of men's and women's tennis.

The current hot conditions are far from unusual in tennis. The 2014 Australian Open was played in temperatures of 42C.

The top male players can sweat as much as three litres an hour during play - much more than the body is capable of replacing in a typical five-hour match.

Meanwhile, Eamonn Holmes was one of the celebrities who turned up to watch the action, showing off his new, slimline figure.

The Belfast broadcaster appeared to be enjoying both the heat and the tennis.

He is also expected to be home for the Tall Ships Festival this weekend.

Earlier, all eyes were on Rory McIlroy's former fiancée Caroline Wozniacki as she played her first game of the tournament in a new Adidas dress designed by British fashion star Stella McCartney.

The traditionally white dress for Wimbledon is sure to keep the 24-year-old feeling as airy as possible, as it features a cut-out design along its hem edge.

The former women's number one's love life is also hotting up, with her now reportedly dating American football NFL star JJ Watt - proving that she loves a sporty guy.

Watt signed a six-year, $100m contract with the Houston Texans back in September.

Belfast Telegraph


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