Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final played what many tennis aficionados believe to be the match of the century. This match is considered to be the longest match in a men’s grandslam final, but at one point Wimbledon officials were considering halting the match because of darkness.

The match lasted an amazing four hours and 48 minutes and was delayed by rain stoppages and time violations by Nadal. At the time, Wimbledon did not have any lighting system in place. That changed with the start of this year’s tournament with the installation of a state-of-the-art LED lighting system through a collaboration of partners.

The LED system was installed by U.S.-based Musco Lighting—which worked in close partnership with ME Engineering—and features the company’s Total Light Control–TLC for LED system-based technology. The installation of the new lighting was the culmination of more than two years of extensive research, planning, and testing to ensure the solution was custom engineered precisely to the needs at Centre Court.

Robert Deatker, AELTC Estate Director, said the purpose of the project was to improve the quality of lighting for broadcasters, whilst simultaneously improving the functionality of the lighting as part of the roof operation. Specifically this involves reducing the amount of time required by the lights to warm up or cool down, thus making it quicker to resume play.

At the onset, project leaders visited the USTA’s Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City—home of the U.S. Open—to see firsthand the performance of Musco’s LED technology, which was installed there the previous year.

As the project moved ahead, a mock-up of the visual setting at Centre Court was created at Musco’s manufacturing and research plant in the U.S., where engineers tested different Kelvin temperatures and Colour Rendering Indexes (CRI) to achieve optimal direct and indirect lighting for broadcasts. A television crew was brought in from the U.K. to conduct camera testing to ensure broadcast quality.

From there, the project team conducted further testing at Wimbledon, bringing in professional tennis players to review the lights at Centre Court and offer input for final adjustments. Installation was completed in November 2016.

The TLC for LED system—which was installed on Centre Court’s retractable roof and will be used when the roof is closed—features patented light control technology, delivers a more uniform light, and virtually eliminates glare from impacting players and spectators. The system’s LED fixtures, structural, and electrical components were engineered to work together to ensure long-term reliability.

The new lighting is backed by a long-term warranty covering parts and labour, eliminating maintenance concerns and costs at Wimbledon for the next decade. Musco will install its LED technology at the No. 1 Court for the opening in The Championships 2019.

“The expectations don’t get any higher than at Wimbledon,” said Jeff Rogers, President of Musco World. “We installed the previous lighting at Centre Court, and we knew the team there would put in the work and expected the highest level of performance, tailored to the venue’s exact needs. Our LED technology has been customised to meet those needs with the highest quality light without creating glare. We’re confident that when the lights go on at this year’s Championships it will create an amazing atmosphere for players and fans.”

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