Tennis fans queue in Wimbledon Park

Wimbledon ticket queue promises fun day out for tennis fans

Thousands of tennis fans from around the world joined the Wimbledon ticket queue this weekend hoping to catch a glimpse of the action on Centre Court.

When the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) opened its doors at 10am on Saturday July 8, more than ten thousand hopeful spectators had already begun the hours-long pilgrimage through Wimbledon Park. 

Fans have been queuing like this for over 100 years, and while the end goal for most is a grounds pass giving access to all courts barring the show courts, for many the queue has become just as much a part of the Wimbledon experience as the tennis itself.

Freya, 28, said: “The wake up is worth it because the queue is just as much fun as the tennis.”

Freya joined the queue at 5.30am with friends Charlotte, Jess and Anna, armed with a picnic and prosecco. 

While this year is Jess’s first time joining the queue, it is the third for Anna and the fourth for Freya and Charlotte. 

Anna admitted that while they usually get in to watch the tennis around midday, in the past the group has had so much fun that they have allowed people to skip ahead of them so they can continue enjoying themselves in the queue.

Charlotte added: “We’re here for the queue, we’re here for the picnic.”

HERE FOR THE PICNIC: Tennis fans enjoyed picnics while queuing in Wimbledon Park

Others join the queue with a far more specific goal in mind: to obtain one of the 500 coveted show court tickets giving viewers access to Centre Court on the day.

Chris, 33, arrived at Wimbledon Park from Essex at 3am on Saturday, joining friends who had camped overnight hoping to secure a place close enough to the front to get into Centre Court on Sunday.

CAMP WIMBLEDON: The most dedicated fans camped overnight to secure top spots in the queue

Wimbledon is one of the only major sporting events that allows fans to buy premium tickets at face value on the day of play, and Chris believes this system gives everyone a fair chance of access. 

He said: “If you really want to be at Centre Court, you can, you just have to give up quite a few days.

“I can’t think what else they would replace the queue with that would be equally as fair and not favour those who’ve got lots of money.”

While the atmosphere on Saturday was upbeat, the queue attracted criticism earlier in the week from disgruntled fans who were left waiting longer than usual in the unseasonable July rain.

On day one of the tournament, AELTC released a statement explaining that the increased wait time was due to enhanced security checks on entry.  

Despite these additional checks, activists from anti-fossil fuel group Just Stop Oil disrupted two matches on Wednesday afternoon by throwing orange paper and jigsaw pieces on the court.

First time queuers Barbara, 50, and daughter Cammy, 19, from north London explained that they did not mind the extended wait, adding that their five and a half hours in the queue had felt more like two. 

However, Barbara, originally from Poland, was concerned that the opportunity for those with a grounds pass to purchase show court ticket returns from 3pm is not clearly advertised, meaning many of her friends from overseas missed out.

Jess had similar concerns, sharing that while she and her friends have no complaints about the queue, she would like to have had more information on how to get tickets.

QUEUE TO BE KIND: Wimbledon fans praised the organisation of the setup that goes into the queue

She said: “I’ll be honest, I don’t really understand how one gets tickets to Wimbledon.

“I live locally and people say you can get resident’s tickets, and I’ve tried through the website but I don’t understand how. 

“There’s definitely some feedback around transparency of how you get tickets.”

Despite these small drawbacks, queuers on Saturday agreed that the management of the queue is impressive, with excellent facilities and stewards directing the crowds clearly. 

On arrival, fans are issued with numbered queue cards which allow them to take breaks of up to 30 minutes to use the toilets or buy food and drink at one of the stalls set up in the park.  

STOCKING UP: Viewers could buy food and drink from stalls during breaks from their 5 or 6 hour waits

The queue’s clear code of conduct combined with a healthy dose of British politeness created a friendly atmosphere.

Curzio from Italy and Robins from Ireland, both 30, joined the queue separately at 7am and only four hours later they were chatting like old friends.

The Wimbledon queue has even turned some queue-haters like 60-year-old John, into queue lovers. 

The Andy Murray fan joined the crowds at 8am on Saturday morning despite the Scottish star being knocked out of the tournament the previous day.

He said: “I normally hate queuing, I normally don’t queue but this has been absolutely fine. 

“It’s just a fantastic occasion and I think people should bite the bullet and get in the queue and enjoy the day.” 

To find out more about queuing for tickets, visit the Wimbledon website

All image credits: Mirrhyn Stephen

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