The Gentlemen’s Singles final at Wimbledon will coincidentally be taking place on the same day as the FIFA World Cup final in Russia, and the stance from the upper echelons at the All England Club is that the Men’s final will commence 2 pm UK time–the traditional start time–and will not in any way be impacted by the football event (the FIFA World Cup Final start time is 4pm UK time), even if the England National Football team reaches the World Cup final. If you factor in the players’ warm-up, the Wimbledon final will start at approximately 2:10 pm. Only two Men’s finals in the last 20 years have lasted less than one hour and 50 minutes.
There can be no argument that with a broadcast record of more than 3 billion across the world, the showpiece event at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow will gain an expectedly massive viewership over the Grand Slam match at SW19, and it has come as a surprise that Wimbledon officials are not even contemplating the idea of an earlier start time for the tennis match.
Richard Lewis, the Chief Executive Officer at Wimbledon, told The Times, “We just said, our final is at two o’clock, let’s just stick with it. That’s our tradition, let’s go with it. Otherwise you start saying, ‘Well, who else do we move for? World athletics or something?”
He added, “It is purely our decision to stay at 2pm. It will stay this year, it will stay next year.”
England’s National Football team has reached the semifinals of World Cup for the first time in 28 years, and if they beat Croatia on Wednesday, they will progress to the final on Sunday for the second time, after winning their sole World Cup in 1966. England’s Round of 16 match against Colombia was watched by 24 million people on ITV in UK, and their win over Sweden by a near 20 million people on BBC–both staggeringly high numbers. The Wimbledon final between Cilic and Federer last year gained 6.3 million viewers on BBC.
Lewis reiterated that there will be no plans to use the giant screen near Court 1 to broadcast England’s semifinal match against Croatia on Wednesday, and the final on Sunday if they get there.
England’s quarterfinal win over Sweden, which incidentally happened as the tennis was played at Wimbledon, did not in any way interfere with the action at SW19. In fact, Lewis was quick to acknowledge and voice his support to the brilliant work the National Team is doing, and has talked on supporters to stream the matches with the free Wi-fi offered in public areas at the All England Club.
“We have a very strong public wi-fi signal and it worked brilliantly on Saturday,” he said.
“That indicates that we are supportive of the World Cup and that we are not turning down the signal strength!”
With the prospect of a Nadal-Federer classic very much realistic, 10 years after their epic showdown that ended at 9:16pm–or a possible Federer-Djokovic final–it is highly likely the tennis will overlap will the football, and there could be a few jeers and roars during rallies in the tennis match. More importantly, though, is what that could do to the international viewing audience. Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic in a Wimbledon final draw a lot of eyeballs from all over the world. How many of those people would choose to watch the World Cup Final instead?