Home Sport Tennis chiefs change rule at Wimbledon after Judy Murray angry rant

Tennis chiefs change rule at Wimbledon after Judy Murray angry rant

The ATP Tour have moved to reverse a rule change that Judy Murray led calls to implement, after Wimbledon, which is set to have a drastic impact on the ball boys and girls moving forward.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, regulations were put in place to prohibit ball kids from handing players sweaty towels to reduce the chance of germs spreading, with the duty previously part of their job at Grand Slam events.

Players were then made to fetch their own towels during points in a tightening of hygiene protocols, though that rule is set to be outlawed next week in an attempt to speed up the time taken between play.

According to the Tennis Channel, recent ATP board meetings confirmed the rule change: “Board approved a rule change to permit players to request and be handed towels between points, as was customary before the COVID-19 pandemic. All ATP tournaments must accommodate this provision. This rule change will take effect starting after Wimbledon.”

The update is unlikely to be music to the ears of Andy Murray’s mother, who has already been in the headlines for her reaction to Emma Raducanu pulling out of mixed doubles at Wimbledon.

During the 2018 Shenzhen Open semi-final, Fernando Verdasco appeared to criticise a ball kid for not moving quickly enough to get them a towel, only for Judy to lambast him on X (formerly known as Twitter) and request a rule change that was introduced, but is set to be terminated.

She wrote, accompanied by an angry emoji and tagging both the ATP and WTA tours: “What about a rule that makes players get their own towels? And the ball kids just look after the tennis balls.”

Previous attempts to curb time spent between have been met with backlash, as Carlos Alcaraz hit back at a new trial at Queen’s this year, where the 25-second countdown began as soon as a point is over rather than when the umpire calls the score.

When asked if he felt rushed in defeat to home star Jack Draper, Alcaraz replied: “Yes, absolutely.

“I mean, he told me that there is a new rule, this new thing, that the clock never stops. After the point is finished, the clock is putting on.

“I think for the player it is something bad. I mean, I finish the point at the net, and I had no time to ask for the balls. I mean, I’m not saying to go to a towel and taking my time. I feel like I can’t ask for the balls. It’s crazy. I have time just to ask for two balls and no bounces.

“I mean, I think I have never seen something like that in tennis. If you play a long point or finish at the net, you have time just to go for a towel or ask for your routine, ask for, in my case, four balls, I’m concentrating for the next point, just bouncing my bounces, and serve as best as I can.”


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