Find out how the grand slams compare in terms of the venues where they are held and minimising the impact of weather.
This is the fifth and final article in a series comparing key elements of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
In this article I’ll review the grounds at each tournament and how good they are at minimising the impact of the weather.
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 1: Ease of Getting to the Venue
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 2: Merchandise
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 3: Ease of Getting Tickets
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 4: Fan Experience
How do the fan slam rankings work?
For each aspect of the tournament each grand slam was rated from 1 to 4, with the best tournament scoring 4 and lowest scoring 1. If two tournaments were equivalent, the total points were shared. For example if two tournaments were equally best, the total points for the top two ratings (4 + 3 = 7) are shared so each tournament receives 3.5.
The scores are based on my opinion and I welcome your feedback in the comments at the end of the article.
At the end of the fan slam ranking series we’ll add up the points to see which tournament is the best overall.
Summary of fan slam rankings to date (from Part 4)
Australian Open : 26
Wimbledon : 23
US Open : 23
French Open : 18
Minimal Impact of Weather
This category receives double points because the weather can cause huge disruptions to the schedule and therefore has a huge impact on the spectator experience.
Australian Open : 8
Wimbledon : 6
US Open : 3
French Open : 3
This particular ranking was pretty easy to do and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows the grand slam tournaments.
Overall rating of the grounds
Wimbledon : 4
Australian Open : 3
US Open : 2
French Open : 1
Points to note
- Melbourne Park, where the Australian Open is held, has two courts with retractable roofs, Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena. The Rod Laver Arena roof can be closed in 20 mins and the Hisense Arena roof in 10 mins when it rains, or when the extreme heat rule kicks in. There is a weather man on site who keeps in close touch with the team in order to minimise the impact of the weather.
- Another advantage of the roofs is that even when they are open they create shade over the seats at the end of the courts and seats higher up in the stands. When you buy tickets for the Australian Open you can select “sun” or “shade” seats (get in quickly though if you want the shaded ones).
- In terms of the rest of the grounds, the redevelopment plans adding a roof to Margaret Court Arena and covered area where fans can get out of the sun. At the moment there are some shaded seats on the bigger show courts and lots of umbrella covered seats around the grounds. Ground pass holders can watch matches on TV while enjoying the air conditioning in the areas around the sides of Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas.
- Since 2009 Wimbledon Centre Court has had a retractable roof so at least play can continue on one court when it rains, which is often does.
- If there was a category for comfortable seats, Wimbledon would win.
- The roof takes 8-10 mins to close and then 30 mins to get air conditioning right before play can resume.
- Court Coverers are trained to get the covers on in 19 seconds when it rains to minimise the impact.
- There are lots of covered areas around the grounds where spectators can shelter from the rain.
- The Wimbledon grounds are kept spotlessly clean and tidy and are decked beautifully like an English Country Garden.
- Read more about my thoughts on rain at Wimbledon in A Tennis Fans Guide to RAINCON (Rain Readiness Conditions) for Wimbledon.
- The US Open experiences all kinds of weather conditions; rain, extreme heat and this year we were evacuated due to a pending tornado. There aren’t a lot of shaded seats near the courts and likewise there isn’t a lot of cover when it rains.
- The schedule is regularly disrupted due to rain and in my opinion you need to be pretty hardy to sit court side for more than an hour or so in in the heat.
- If play lasts less than 59 minutes due to rain your tickets can be swapped for another session but they won’t be refunded. Read more about the inclement weather policy.
- The harsh hot conditions make it attractive to spoil yourself with tickets in a corporate suite, so you take breaks in the air conditioning while watching matches on TV.
- When it rains at the French Open you pretty much need to either go shopping for merchandise, visit the museum or huddle under the sides of the courts.
- On the plus side due to the nature of clay courts, a little bit of rain doesn’t stop play, and it doesn’t take long before play resumes when the rain has stopped.
- There are plans to expand the small, crowded grounds in the next few years.
Also read the article on the fan experience for more information about and photos of the venue for each tournament.
Summary of the fan slam rankings and the winner is….the Australian Open
Australian Open : 37
Wimbledon : 33
US Open : 28
French Open : 22
I’ll write one more article summarising the best and worst points of each grand slam tournament.
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal