Wimbledon chiefs are to welcome full capacity crowds from Tuesday after organisers won the green light to fast-track a scale-up in spectator numbers.
The All England Club announced last month that the show courts could be full from finals weekend due to its involvement in government crowd pilots.
However, following the apparent success of 50 per cent attendances in week one, Wimbledon appears to have convinced both Merton Council and safety inspectors that numbers can be increased earlier than planned.
It means new British sensation Emma Raducanu could be rewarded with a full capacity crowd if she overcomes Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in her singles round of 16 match on Monday.
Full show court venues at Wimbledon means SW19 has beaten Wembley to become the first outdoor venue to open up full stadiums again since the pandemic began.
Centre Court will welcome a full house of 14,979 and No. 1 Court can entertain 12,345 spectators, but both remain at about 60 per cent crowds for the “Manic Monday” scheduling of fourth round matches.
A statement said: “Following the successful staging of the first week of the Championships, as agreed with the Government’s Events Research Programme and in consultation with our local authority in Merton, the AELTC is pleased to confirm that Centre and No. 1 Court will feature 100 per cent capacity crowds for the quarter-finals, with Centre Court also at 100 per cent capacity for the semi-finals and finals.
“This marks the first full outdoor stadiums at a sporting event in the UK since the pandemic began.”
What does a Covid Wimbledon look like?
Capacity across the rest of the grounds will be reduced according to the number of courts in play. Ticket holders, who will get hold of extra availability via the MyWimbledon website, will continue to be told to show proof of Covid status as part of the venue’s pilot crowd involvement.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, had long earmarked the showpiece tennis tournament and Euro 2020 as crown jewel events to show the world Britain is on the road to recovery.
Sources close to Wimbledon have said it is too early to pass on data over positive Covid cases involving spectators in the first week.
Despite the grounds being mainly at 50 per cent capacity, the on-site shops and restaurants said they felt as busy as any other year.
Wimbledon assured customers that the playing balls it has been selling on site are Covid-free. As part of extra-precautions, they are now stored for 24 hours after matches before going on sale.
However, lingering nerves around infection amongst the players was laid bare by Jamie Murray after he lamented Johanna Konta’s withdrawal from the tournament after a close contact of the British women’s number 1 tested positive.
In line with government regulations, the world No 31 is isolating for 10 days. Murray believes the case has “put people on edge”.
From the first nine pilots for the return of crowds elsewhere, just 28 positive Covid-19 cases were reported from 58,000 participants.