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Wimbledon steps up security measures

The most stringent security measures in Wimbledon's 117-year history will be imposed this year because of concerns raised by the stabbing of Monica Seles.

Video surveillance cameras, undercover officers and uniformed police at court entrances, all used in the past, will be combined with new precautions as part of a stepped-up joint operation between police and the All England Club.

"We have reviewed the security and we have enhanced it where we think necessary in light of certain events over the past year," said Carol Benwell, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police.

Police and club officials met for two days last week to prepare for the tournament, which begins Monday. Details were not released, but Wimbledon employees say the Seles incident brought a renewed vigilance in preparation for next week, where one emphasis will be on more thorough searches of spectators' bags at the gate.

Seles, then the world's top-ranked player, was stabbed by a spectator during a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, on April

30. Fears of similar incidents, including possible copy-cat attacks, brought about increased security at subsequent events, including the Italian and French Opens.

Benwell said the number of police, stewards and other security people hired by Wimbledon will total around 1,000, the largest ever and a small increase from last year.

"The police have a strong presence at Wimbledon, both plain-clothed and uniformed," said the All England Club's chief executive, Christopher Gorringe, who refused to comment on specific security measures. "We consult the police on all security matters and their recommendations and advice is implemented."

Benwell said security is updated every year at Wimbledon, where police also have to be watchful for any action by the Irish Republican Army.

"We've always had a security presence for our players and that will not not change," Wimbledon spokeswoman Tina Bennett said. "For instance, the police have always provided an escort for players who are playing on the outer courts.

"We have spoken with the players' organizations and they are happy with the security arrangements."