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Wimbledon Waves The White Flag To All-White Rule For Olympics

Organizers of the tournament have decided that the traditional all-white dress rule will be waived for the tennis competition at the London Olympic Games in 2012.

Players must wear predominantly white clothing during the Grand Slam event in June, however that will change for the Olympics, and All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said Wimbledon had no hesitation in loosening its rules for the occasion.

“We have been very supportive to the Olympic organizers throughout the process,” he said. “We hope to some extent there will be a different type of audience. It is not a repeat of the Championships. It will be its own competition, have its own style and it will play out in its own way.”

Among other changes, the Royal Box on the Centre Court will be filled with the International Olympic Committee “family”, instead of the assorted royalty and dignitaries who congregate there during the Wimbledon matches.

Only 12 of the available 17 courts will be required at the tennic centre during the London Olympics, meaning crowd capacity will be just 26,000, down from 40,000 during the championships.

One tradition of Wimbledon however, will remain; no scheduled night sessions. Play will begin at 11 am GMT, and is expected to continue until about 8 pm. As is the case during Wimbledon, play could carry on under the roof on Centre Court if circumstances, such as the weather, demand.

The London Olympic tennis event is set to begin on July 28th 2012, just 20 days after the end of the Grand Slam tournament. The All England Club last week made assurances that the grass courts would be resurfaced in time following a successful test this year.

Debbie Jevans, London 2012 director of sport and venues, said earlier that organizers were very confident there would still be an appetite for the Olympic tennis, even though it is such a short time after Wimbledon.

“There will be a lot of people who do not get tickets for the Championships,” she said. “It gives them the chance to see the best players in the world.”

The 2012 Olympic tennis event will be the first to include mixed doubles, meaning there will be five gold medals up for grabs. As usual, the singles events will be played over three sets, except for the men’s final, which will be the best of five.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal won the gold medal in men’s singles in Beijing Olympics 4 years ago. Roger Federer teamed up with Stanislas Wawrinka to win the men’s doubles for Switzerland in the same games.

Amongst the women, Elena Dementieva of Russia won the singles and American sisters, Venus and Serena Williams, secured the doubles title.

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