Julie Jacobson
May 31, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Long rain delays could soon be gone for good at the center courts of tennis' Grand Slam tournaments.

Wimbledon and the Australian Open already have retractable roofs over their main stadiums. The French Open, which was halted by showers for more than 2 1/2 hours Sunday, is hoping to add one by 2019, though that is currently held up by conflicts over a broader expansion plan.

Across the Atlantic, construction is going on at the U.S. Open's Arthur Ashe Stadium, where rain pushed the men's final back a day five straight years from 2008-12. Players, fans and TV broadcasters won't be able to enjoy protection from the elements until the 2016 tournament.

The project is too time-consuming to be completed between the end of last year's Open and the start of this year's Aug. 31. So all the cranes, all the equipment, all the materials need to be removed at the start of July. Then everything must be brought back in and set back up again.

That will add 4-5 months to the overall time it will take to finish the job, said Danny Zausner, the chief operating officer of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

''You'd be hard-pressed to find another project that stops for three months,'' he said. ''It's not the way you want to do it.''

But it's the only way to do it in Flushing Meadows, where the lack of space around the courts also adds to the cost, duration and difficulty of the project.

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