Wimbledon's High-Tech Heaven

Wimbledon, UK (May 18, 2009)--The year 2009 sees the start of a new era at Wimbledon, where the traditional tennis matches play to a worldwide audience. For the first time, a huge roof will roll out over the Centre Court (which dates from 1922) when rain threatens to interrupt the legendary tennis tournament.

W. L. Gore & Associates have significantly contributed to the technological achievement of British firm of architects global design firm Populous and British construction company Galliford Try by providing the 5,200 square metres of roofing fabric, whose properties are ideally suited to Wimbledon's new high-tech heaven.

On Sunday, May 17, the roof gave a dress rehearsal to a packed house. Visitors to the Centre Court Celebration experienced a fully covered stadium still flooded with natural light for the first time. On the grass court, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters showed that top tennis can be played as usual in the new atmosphere, followed by singing stars Katherine Jenkins, Faryl Smith and Blake.

English summer rain has been a faithful companion of the oldest international tennis championship from the start. Finals have been interrupted or delayed, and the 14-day competition has sometimes had to be prolonged because the weather didn't want to play ball. The British tennis world took it philosophically. But for the many world visitors and the TV channels broadcasting the matches in over 130 countries, the interruptions meant headaches for everyone. So the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club decided at the turn of the millennium to incorporate an extremely sophisticated, high-tech roof into the historic Centre Court.

10 steel trusses span 77 metres and are moved electronically 16 metres above the lawn. When they come together from both sides in only 10 minutes, they stretch the special Gore fabric; being only 0.5 millimetres thick, this is extremely lightweight, allows a great deal of natural light to pass through whilst remaining absolutely rainproof and withstands calculated wind loads.

The patented GORE™ TENARA® architectural fabric combines flexibility with complete immunity to UV sunlight, exceptional textile aesthetic qualities and has further attractive features. Its load-bearing structure comprises a fine, PTFE yarn made up in a translucent, tear-resistant weave. Rainproofing is assured by a flexible fluoropolymer coating. Both materials are UV-stable, thus guaranteeing the durability of the fabric. Tests have confirmed that it can be folded and creased repeatedly and remain undamaged. The fluoropolymer surface makes it dirt-repellent, so that rain alone largely suffices to clean it. And a particular plus point is that the Gore fabric can easily be worked using high frequency welding.

This set of features seems tailor-made for the specifications of the Wimbledon retractable roof. In addition, the material is recognised as being particularly good in aesthetic terms. Its textile structure is visible to the naked eye. And because it allows 40 percent of sunlight to pass through and reflects almost all of the rest, it has an extraordinary brilliance both inside and out, underlining the world-class ranking of Centre Court.

About GORE™ TENARA® Architectural Fabric

GORE™ TENARA® Architectural Fabric enables innovative permanent, retractable and temporary tensile structures around the world. It is the choice of architects, fabricators and builders seeking architectural fabric with high light transmission, the ability to drape and fold, and proven long life. To learn more, visit tenarafabric.com.

Photos by Andy Schmid, Munich, Germany.

Contact - Europe

Carole Boisdron
W. L. Gore & Associates GmbH
Wernher-von-Braun-Straße 18
D-85640 Putzbrunn

Tel.: +49 89 4612-2216
Fax: +49 89 4612-42216
E-Mail: cboisdro@wlgore.com

Contact - U.S.

Susan Crow
W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
100 Airport Road
Elkton, MD  21921

Tel: +1 410-506-7776
Fax: +1 410-996-8585
E-Mail: scrow@wlgore.com