Wimbledon ball boy

More than half a million people attended Wimbledon this year

More than half a million spectators attended Wimbledon this year – the highest ever recorded figure.

Due to the introduction of play on Middle Sunday, 515,164 people attended across the fortnight, according to figures from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), who host the tournament.

Traditionally, Middle Sunday would see all play pause with the grass given a day to recover and up until this year, play had only occurred on Middle Sunday on four occasions in the history of Wimbledon.

In 1991, 1997, 2004 and 2016, poor weather conditions in the opening week, as well as the absence of a roof on the showpiece courts led to play being deemed necessary on the first Sunday of the tournament to ensure the event finished on time.

NEW RECORD: The introduction of play on Middle Sunday facilitated the record high attendance

Despite breaking the record for aggregate attendance, the first three days of the Championships had the lowest attendance since 2007 excluding the Covid-affected tournament of 2021, where the capacity of the grounds was capped at 50%.

However, the hot weather during the second week attracted many and the second week regularly saw the hill packed to capacity and the numbers return to pre-pandemic levels in 30-degree heat.

Excluding the impact of adding play on Middle Sunday, there was a total of 475,740 spectators this year, which is an overall 5% decrease from the equivalent figures for 2019 where 500,397 fans flocked in for the Championships.

Ben James, 34, was one of thousands on the hill last Friday during Cameron Norrie’s semi-final defeat to the eventual men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic.

He said: “It’s been pretty weird this year actually. The weather’s been great and it seems busy when you’re here but we barely had to queue and even when you’re watching on the TV, you can see quite a lot of empty seats on the main courts.

“It doesn’t make for the best viewing.”

With tickets on phones, the traditional process of people giving back their tickets for others to use by simply popping the stub in a box on their way out if they were leaving no longer exists. 

And for some, the process of dealing with technology proved too much of a nuisance and consequently, many games on Centre Court and Court No 1 were played in front of swathes of empty seats. 

James added: “I think people are still cautious of going into big crowds after Covid and obviously Roger Federer’s not playing this year so that’s probably played a part.”

Federer, an eight-time Wimbledon champion and an icon of SW19, missed the tournament this year for the first time in 23 years while the early exits of other fan favourites like Andy Murray and Serena Williams seem to have had an impact.

Hassan Aziz, 23 had never been to Wimbledon but made the decision to go this year.

He said: “To be honest, it was easy. I’ve heard stories of people queuing for hours but I got there and was inside in ten minutes.

“I loved it and I’m definitely going to go back next year if it’s this easy. It’s such an experience.”

The renowned queue is one of the main ways for fans to usually get tickets but this year, reports suggested it was nowhere near as busy as usual with many getting in within an hour of arriving at SW19.

Asked about why he felt the queue sizes had considerably declined, Aziz added: “The price to enter the Grounds (£20) wasn’t bad for a one-off but the costs inside for food and drink and souvenirs was quite high.

“I think with the cost of living crisis, it’s not the most affordable day out for most, especially families. For me, it was simply something on the bucket list and now that I’ve done it and loved it, I’ll definitely go again.”

Featured image credit: Carine06 via Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Related Articles