Wimbledon 2021: Tournament looks to improve media operations

 Wimbledon 2021: Tournament looks to improve media operations

Wimbledon is looking at ways to improve its media operations, according to its chief executive Sally Bolton.

Last month, world number two Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open after saying she would not do news conferences at Roland Garros to protect her mental health.

Osaka is due to play at Wimbledon, which starts on 28 June.

“We have started a consultation,” Bolton told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

“Of course, that consultation needs to include not just the players, but the media and all of those engaged in that space.

“We are always striving to do things better.”

Bolton also confirmed that the tournament had been in contact with Osaka’s team after the 23-year-old’s withdrawal from the second Grand Slam event of the year.

“We have spoken to her team in the last few weeks,” she said. “So yes, we’re certainly remaining engaged with Naomi’s team, as we are with all players.”

On Wednesday, tournament director Jamie Baker said he had told Osaka’s entourage that the phone lines were always open to discuss any issues that might arise.

“It’s absolutely clear that we’re here, we’re completely open for any discussions when they want to have that,” he said.

“Hopefully it goes without saying that we want the best players competing here no matter what.”

Capacity crowd for finals

Both Wimbledon singles finals will be played in front of capacity crowds – the first UK outdoor sporting events to do so since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the event part of a government trial for the suspension of masks and social distancing, face coverings will not have to be worn when spectators are in their seats.

However, they will have to be worn by fans moving around the grounds, and organisers “expect there still to be a form of social distancing” around the grounds and in queues.

Initially, there will be 50% capacity allowed in the grounds. That will then rise throughout the tournament before the two finals, which take place on the 15,000-capacity Centre Court on 10 and 11 July.

“We’re very confident that we’ll be able to deliver a very safe environment in which to increase our spectator base,” added Bolton.

“It’s also important for us actually to be part of helping to understand how we can get our sector back to full fans, and we’re delighted to be part of that programme.

“It’s fantastic that we’re in a situation where not only can we welcome the world’s best players back to our grass courts, but we can also welcome a good number of fans into our stadia to create that really special shared experience of the championships.”

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