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Tennis Pros Complain Of Unsafe Conditions At Unusually Hot Wimbledon

Jul 7, 2017
Originally published on July 7, 2017 6:18 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This week, while many Americans were celebrating Independence Day on the Fourth of July, many people in the U.K. were also marking a special occasion. Wednesday was Flying Ant Day.

DAVID WALDSTEIN: I was standing outside, and a couple of flying ants landed on my phone. And I didn't think much of it. And then I was looking at Twitter. I saw somebody make reference to Flying Ant Day. And I put two and two together (laughter).

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

That's David Waldstein. He's a sports correspondent for The New York Times, and he's currently in London covering Wimbledon.

SIEGEL: Yes, Flying Ant Day happens once a year, usually in July. That's when the urge to breed strikes and the flying ants swarm.

WALDSTEIN: It's the first day of their mating season. And it can vary how intense it is. But for a while, it was a pretty big one.

MCEVERS: Usually, it's just an annoying thing people in the U.K. deal with. British websites offer plenty of tips on how to get rid of them.

SIEGEL: But Flying Ant Day is getting worldwide attention this year because a swarm happened right in the middle of Wimbledon.

WALDSTEIN: They were all over the courts. And some of the players said that they were getting in their eyes while they were serving, going up their noses and into their (laughter) equipment bags and pretty much everywhere.

SIEGEL: Photos and videos posted online show grass courts crawling with the bugs, players and umpires swatting them away.

MCEVERS: Here's what British tennis player Johanna Konta told the BBC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHANNA KONTA: There was quite an army of flying ants, wasn't there? And I think I've definitely taken home a few as a souvenir in my belly and in my bags (laughter). I've definitely ate a few.

MCEVERS: As with all things, Flying Ant Day had to come to an end. The New York Times' David Waldstein says it didn't last very long.

WALDSTEIN: I'd say about three hours later, they were pretty much gone, not to have been seen since.

SIEGEL: And Waldstein says aside from being a nuisance, he doesn't think the ants caused too many problems for the players at Wimbledon.

WALDSTEIN: I don't think anybody lost because of it. But it was certainly distracting for a while. And I think (laughter) - I don't know. I guess they're all just sort of happy that it came and went.

MCEVERS: Now the players can focus on more important things like beating their next opponent.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES CLARKE'S "SECOND CUT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.