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Wimbledon to fine players £20k if they break biobubbles - GETTY IMAGES

Wimbledon to fine players £20k if they break biobubbles – GETTY IMAGES

An All England Club press conference on Tuesday will sketch out the shape of this summer’s unique Wimbledon.

Much of the focus will surround the tournament’s tight bubble protocols — which are likely to include £20,000 fines to deter potential rule-breakers.

In line with their reputation for prudence, the AELTC are planning an ultra-cautious event where every player, even Andy Murray, who lives a dozen miles away in Oxshott, will have to stay in a bio-secure hotel.

The tournament will start in earnest on June 28, a week after the final date on the government’s roadmap towards normal social contact. The sight of drinkers and diners, mixing joyfully on London’s streets, may not go down well with mask-wearing players as they are driven back and forward between the club and their soulless digs.

In this awkward situation, you can see how sanctions might be the only way to prevent some members of the locker-room, especially those starved of social opportunities, from breaching safeguards.

The AELTC received a broadly supportive message from two-time champion Murray.

Speaking about the tight rules, Murray acknowledged he is unlikely to see much of his family or friends over the summer, and might even have to do without their support from the stands as well.

But Murray — who complained about lax bio-security standards at the National Tennis Centre after contracting Covid-19 in January — said he is prepared to accept such frustrations in the interests of safety,

“Obviously I would way rather not be staying in a hotel,” said Murray, who is also expecting to spend time in a bubble during Queen’s — the grass-court warm-up event that he has won a record five times.

“It would be a shame but, if that’s what we’ve got to do to keep everyone safe, then that’s what we’ll do.

“We’ve been told that the ticketing for Wimbledon is going to be vastly reduced for the players for family,” Murray added. “It would be very odd playing at Wimbledon without, not just being able to see your family and stuff, but not having them there to support in the matches as well.

“That’s the times we’re living in. Hopefully, if we keep going with the vaccinations, there’ll be a possibility for potentially family members and friends that have been vaccinated to come in and get tickets and come to support. If not, that’s what it will have to be this year.”

Despite the grudging attitude of some tennis players towards the pandemic, clear breaches of bio-bubbles have been rare.

The only examples thus far cropped up at last month’s Miami Open. The Open Court website reported that world No5 Stefanos Tsitsipas had earned a $7,500 fine for one such case, while another group of players were whispered to have made an unsanctioned visit to a Whole Foods store.

Those players did not include Murray, who pulled out of the Miami Open after waking up with a painful groin. As he put it, bubble life is “frustrating” and “tiring”. But he also brought some perspective to the debate, pointing out that “60,000 people died in Brazil last month because of coronavirus”.

Murray’s view is that players need to be more positive about vaccinations – a message which Novak Djokovic, for one, would disagree with. Questioned on the subject last week, Djokovic refused to divulge whether he had received a vaccination himself, before adding that they should not be made compulsory on the tour.

Murray made his own position clear, saying: “If you want to avoid having to be in a bubble for too long, you need to then support the vaccination [programme], because you can’t just say, ‘No we want to just live normally and we don’t want any bubbles but we also don’t want to be vaccinated’. It’s a no-brainer to me.”

The AELTC are not expected to make any firm statement on attendance figures or tickets, which will not go on sale until June in any case. Murray said that he was expecting a reduction of around 70 per cent within the grounds. They normally hold a maximum of 42,000 people.

Although Murray has not played an event since Rotterdam almost two months ago, he is back training on clay, and will probably try to give himself a warm-up tournament before the French Open starts on May 30.

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