The court conditions at Wimbledon are coming under scrutiny after American Bethanie Mattek-Sands suffered what appeared to be a horrific knee injury after slipping Thursday during her match against Sorana Cirstea.
The problems stem from the hot, humid yet mostly rain-free weather over Wimbledon’s first week.
“I’m not an expert at all on grass courts,” 12th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic said Thursday. “I guess the climate doesn’t help, the fact that it’s too nice, too hot, too sunny, makes everything very dry. That’s what we got as an answer from the officials.”
Mladenovic did not hide her frustration with the conditions on another outside show court — this one Court 18 — after her loss Thursday to Alison Riske. She said both her and her opponent asked the umpire to move their match to another court just two games in because they felt the surface was unsafe.
“It’s quite unique with your opponent, after two games, you both agree on stopping playing in a slam,” Mladenovic said, per the Guardian. “You ask the referee to tell you what’s the rule if both players don’t want to keep on playing. And the answer is that they just can’t do anything, unfortunately, and you have to keep on playing. I’m not sure how the other courts are, if they’re damaged that much as Court 18.
“The color of the court, the fact that there’s no more grass, the fact the baseline where we are running, it’s very slippery. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not even clay. If you look at the screen, it is everywhere where we are supposed to run. There was a huge hole on the sides where the referee came to take pictures of it. It was not even flat. I realized that because at the warm-up I kind of twisted my ankle.”
Here’s what Court 18 looked like on Friday, via ESPN’s Arash Markazi:
Madison Brengle (USA) is playing Caroline Garcia (France) on Court 18 to begin Day 5 at Wimbledon. pic.twitter.com/MwxaEkiuPb
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 7, 2017
And here’s a comparison of court conditions between last year and this year:
Wimbledon 3R 2016 vs 3R 2017
Grass looks different. pic.twitter.com/ojGHlAwdYU
— Dmitry Shakhov (@Shahovez) July 7, 2017
She added that Agnieszka Radwanska had told her conditions on Court 2 were “horrible” during her match against Christina McHale and that players were complaining about the courts in the locker room.
In response to Mladenovic’s complaints, a Wimbledon supervisor told the Guardian that Court 18 had been fully inspected before the match and that officials “judged it playable as per normal.”
The extent of Mattek-Sands’s knee injury remain unclear. On Friday, a WTA spokesman said Mattek-Sands was having more tests on her right knee.