The retractable roof over Wimbledon’s center court took five years to plan and was three years in the making. It is made of 5,200 sq. meters of waterproof fabric that is designed, when shut, to let natural light reach the grass. When the roof is closed over the court, its arch shape protects the structure from the elements such as wind storms or accumulating snow. The arched roof provides 16 meters of clearance to accommodate even the highest of lobs.
It takes about ten minutes for the Wimbledon roof to open or close. Linear actuators, 42 of them, create locking devices. Only 36 of them actually operate when the roof is in action. The roof is expected to be in open position for most of the time. It is divided into two sections consisting of nine bays – four in one section and five in the other. The closing function involves parking the north and south ends of the roof in its folded state. Actuators and arms make up the mechanism that closes the roof at a speed of 214 mm per second. This mechanism moves apart the trusses that separate each bay. When the sections are in position, the 36 linear actuators lock them in.
The roof, and the linear actuators that provide its motion, improves playing conditions and reduces the number of costly rain delays. The Wimbledon roof doesn’t just lend protection from bad weather conditions; when the sun gets a little too sunny, when closed, it can enhance the spectator’s enjoyment of this iconic event.