The Big Picture

Where the grass is not greener

Players are not the only entities that take a beating at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

Inevitably, the immaculate lawn of Centre Court, pictured here in a combination of images taken during the tournament from June 29 to July 12, gives out under the wear and tear of feet; the resulting bare patches almost an almanac of how far the championship has progressed.

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament, out of four, that is played on grass, a surface that is increasingly falling out of favour in the tournament circuit.

It is not all that surprising, considering that the other modern-day surfaces afford greater control for players demanding better precision and predictability in their strokes.

Thus the Australian Open was played on grass until 1987; the US Open till 1974.

A high degree of care is taken to ensure the surface is both durable and yet playable. It takes 15 months to prepare a standard court that is used in the championships, according to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Since 2001, courts have been sown wholly with Perennial Ryegrass, a hardy variety that can better withstand the rigours of the modern game.

During the tournament, it is cut daily to a height of 8mm, "the optimum for present-day play and survival", said

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2015, with the headline 'Where the grass is not greener'. Print Edition | Subscribe