The Weather of Wimbledon
Posted on 10 Jul 2023
“The mark of great sportsmen is not how good they are at their best, but how good they are at their worst.” - Martina Navratilova
Once a year, in an otherwise unknown and somewhat sleepy part of South West London, the world’s finest grass court tennis players go head to head in a sports arena synonymous with some of the most epic of matches. The legendary arena at Wimbledon has seen underdogs achieve greatness, champions take an early exit, and spectators enjoy the delicious taste of strawberries and cream.
When Venus Williams beat Lindsay Davenport in the 2005 final, Williams was a lowly 14th seed, whereas Davenport was at the peak of her game as the number 1 seed. The match proved not only to be the longest in the history of the championships, but also to be one of the most exciting. Davenport, after leading the match, had to leave the court with a back injury. After she returned eventually had a match point at 4-5 on Williams' serve. Williams saved it with a blistering backhand down the line and went on to win.
And after Bjorn Borg triumphed over John McEnroe in 1980, the match was described as “the single most compelling piece of court magic.” by the New York Times. The differing styles, competitive nature of the players and seemingly endless tie breaks created what is now a match of legend.
There are many elements that go into making a tennis championship - the preparation and training that the players undergo is nothing less than phenomenal. But there are other factors that also can affect the matches and the enjoyment of the spectators, including the famous British weather.
There is more to tennis weather than just the inconvenience of rain, other natural weather phenomena can affect how a match is played, how fast the ball goes, and perhaps even who wins the match.
Higher temperatures increase the internal air pressure of the ball, meaning that the balls bounce higher than during colder weather. Players such as Rafael Nadal take advantage of this by creating more topspin on their shots. Conversely, when the weather is colder, the internal pressure of the balls reduce, meaning less bounce, and lower shots that are more difficult to return.
Hotter weather not only affects how the balls bounce, but also how they travel through the air. For example, when the temperature changes from 10C to 35C, the air density decreases by 10%, meaning that the balls fly through the air about 3 to 5 mph quicker.
During periods of high humidity, the water content of the air is higher, and the tennis balls tend to absorb more water. This has the effect of reducing their overall speed. The effect on the players can also be dramatic, placing higher demands on these super-fit athletes.
Humidity does not tend to affect the Wimbledon championships as much as other tournaments, such as the Miami Masters, but still can have an effect on the match.
Wind can dramatically affect the trajectory of the ball, making the match more unpredictable. At Wimbledon, the center court is generally well protected from the impact of wind, however some of the outlying courts can be susceptible to gusts of match-changing wind.
As clay is the only surface that allows play to continue during light rain, any rain can have the effect of stopping play at Wimbledon, although both the Centre and Number One courts now have retractable roofs, allowing play to continue in all but the most extreme of conditions.
How OpenWeather can serve an ace API for tennis
The OpenWeather One Call API 3.0 provides a convenient and detailed way to obtain a variety of weather parameters, including historic, current and forecast information that can help both tennis players, organizers, spectators understand about the effects of weather on the tournament. Possible delays in play can be forecast, tickets managed, food ordered and players given some certainty as to when they will start their matches.
2023 Wimbledon Forecast
The forecast for the remainder of the Wimbledon fortnight is somewhat changeable, though temperatures will be consistent with highs of about 23C, light or moderate breeze, and chances of light rain showers.
OpenWeather provides weather data for any location on the globe using a proprietary hyperlocal forecasting model with a resolution from 500 m to 2 km, globally. More than 5,000,000 customers from logistics, agriculture, insurance, energy, retail, and many other sectors, are working with the company's weather products.
OpenWeather cooperates with global meteorological agencies such as MetOffice and NOAA, and enhances its model with data from radars, weather stations and satellites. The company provides great availability of service at 99.9% for enterprise-level products.
The products can be easily integrated into complex IT systems and are ideal for ML analytic systems. OpenWeather is a member of Royal Meteorological Society and an Achilles-certified supplier. OpenWeather ethical initiatives include support of educators and students, not-for-profit subscriptions for the general public to increase weather awareness, and recent Ukrainian donation programme, and donations to COVID researchers.
For more information on how to gain access to our OpenWeather products, please email us.