Wimbledon is reported to be preparing what is likely to be an unpopular player housing lockdown for this summer’s edition, with London’s Mail Online reporting that renting private homes near the club will not be allowed.
The move, expected to be confirmed in the coming days as plans for the edition starting on June 28 shape up, is unlikely to be embraced by ATP and WTA elites – most of whom pay up to the tens of thousands to live in nearby suburban comfort for the grass fortnight.
“We are putting in place a variety of infection control measures in line with our aspiration to stage a safe, best-practice and trusted event,” the club told the well-informed website.
“One of the priority measures is a minimised risk environment for the players. As such, based on current guidance, there will be official hotels for all players, their support teams, and key groups such as officials, which will be a mandatory requirement for entry into this year’s Championships.”
While Britain currently leads the race for COVID-19 vaccinations, it also heads the table for the most deaths per capita from the virus in all of Europe.
With a patchwork of local and national pandemic regulations coming and going over the past year amid various government bungles and dead ends, Wimbledon officials will also need some public health good luck to get the edition up and running.
The decision is unlikely to be wholeheartedly endorsed by multi-millionaire players accustomed to their home comforts compared to life in even a five-star hotel room.
Travel time to the All England Club is also likely to be an issue, with London traffic horrendous at best and one of the major nearby bridges across the Thames – Hammersmith – shut down for some years due to “repairs.”
Roger Federer, who continually cites Wimbledon as his favourite event, habitually rents the same two homes on a street near the club for his family and team.
Novak Djokovic has a favourite tree where he likes to commune with nature; he also has been known to frequent a local Bhuddist temple.
Andy Murray regularly commutes from his sprawling Surrey mansion to the south of the capital during the grass major.
Rafel Nadal also prefers local rentals and is often seen shopping for food on Wimbledon Village High Street.
The Dog and Fox pub occasionally gets a visit from wild-child Australian Nick Kyrgios, with scores of lesser players also opting for Wimbledon home rentals with varying degrees of luxury and amenities.
Hotels of a suitable standard are rare in south London, meaning that the isolated bio-bubble eventually chosen will certainly be a good hour away by car from the site.
Officials are stressing that the hotel rule is obligatory in order to keep check on any virus cases.