Wimbledon one step closer to £65 million expansion


Plans to expand the site of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships have taken a vital step forward after members of a nearby golf course agreed to hold a vote on whether to sell off land to the championships.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club had offered nearly £65 million ($85 million) to buy out the lease of the Wimbledon Park Golf Club across the street from the Grand Slam's home.

Members of the golf club have now agreed to change their constitution, opening the door for a further vote in December where they will either approve or vote against the proposal to sell the course to the AELTC in 2021.

At a general meeting Wednesday night the members of Wimbledon Park agreed to alter their rules to allow any windfall to be shared equally among them.

Previously only those members who had been part of the golf club for ten years or more could have benefited from any payment, making the necessary backing for Wimbledon's offer far less likely.

The proposal would allow Wimbledon to triple the size of its grounds, adding 73 acres to the 42 currently used to host the Grand Slam event each July.

The area could be used to host qualifying, which currently takes place at the Bank of England sports club in Roehampton, several miles from the main tournament venue.

Wimbledon already owns the lease on the golf club but control of it does not revert back to the AELTC until 2041.

Organisers are concerned Wimbledon is falling behind the other Grand Slam events -- the Australian Open, US Open and French Open -- all of which have made significant progress in expanding and improving their grounds.

All three of the other Grand Slams also hold their qualifying events on-site.