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Wimbledon's flower baskets at risk, but not courts

MYT 12:30:01 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - The recent deluge of rain in London may have come too late for Wimbledon's hanging flower baskets.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in the men's singles final at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 3, 2011. REUTERS/Stephen Pond/Pool

All England Club officials said on Tuesday that the flower-filled baskets, an eye-catching feature of the grounds at the annual tennis tournament, could be scaled back because the capital is still on drought alert.

However, they were confident that the club's famous grass courts would recover in time to host the London Olympic tennis event at the end of July, three weeks after the end of the championships.

"It might seem odd to be talking about a shortage of water when it's rained for the last three weeks here in London but we do recognise that there is a serious water shortage in the south-east of England," All England Club chairman Philip Brook told reporters at a news conference.

The All England Club has an exemption from a widespread hosepipe ban to allow it to prepare the courts for the championships and the Olympic competition, although if the situation deteriorated in the coming months Brook said water could be brought in tankers.

"Away from the courts we are reducing unnecessary water use," he said. "With that in mind we are revising our planting schemes, with drought-resistant plants and some reduction in hanging baskets inside and outside the grounds.

"Wimbledon this year will be a little less colourful than usual but we think it's the right thing to do."

The club also announced a "Wimbledon 2020" masterplan to further improve the venue which has undergone a major overhaul in the last 15 years, including a new Court One and a retractable roof over Centre Court.

Brook said no decision had been made on adding a roof to Court One or expanding the club on to an adjacent golf course.

"Consideration of a roof on Court One will be part of our thinking," he said.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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