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Outdoor Tennis Could Be Sports’ First Big Climate Change Casualty


When Rafael Nadal played his first round at Wimbledon on Thursday, the heat index was considerably lower than what it could be in 2050, when July in London could feel like 102 degrees Fahrenheit. The impending retirements of Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal — winners of a combined 65 major singles titles — have some worried about the end of the glory days of tennis. But a bigger existential crisis is facing the sport: climate change.

All sports, if they haven’t already, are expected to suffer in a warming world. Sea-level rise could flood arenas and stadiums . Greater use of artificial snow could lead to more serious injuries for skiers and biathletes. Stronger storms and wildfires could wreak havoc on schedules across leagues. But few sports are likely to fare worse than tennis. The sport follows the sun 10 months of the year, and more than 80 percent of its tournaments are played outdoors. And there are no substitutions in tennis: Players spend hours on the court without teammates ready to take their place while they rest.

In some ways, tennis could suffer just as much as endurance events such as marathon running, where athletes are always moving […]

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