The All England Wimbledon Tennis Championship is considered the world’s greatest tournament on account of the quality of tennis, the prize money, celebrities viewing matches from the Royal Box and accessibility of top class tennis to the general public. Having been held since 1877, Wimbledon is one of the few top tier sporting events that allows you to bring your own food and drink (reasonable food and either one bottle of wine or two beers) and purchase premium tickets to center court on the day (to those hardy who have queued overnight).
The grass court Championship is held in the London suburb of Wimbledon (the nearest Tube stops are Southfields and Wimbledon Park) and begins at the end of June each year, lasting for two weeks. Viewed by millions on TV and online, it also receives nearly 40,000 spectators on the busiest days with many queuing the day before, or early in the morning, to gain a ‘show court’ ticket and ground access pass. The ‘Ground Passes’ are sold each day and allows the general public access to up to 15 courts where some of the world’s greatest players battle it out. 500 tickets are sold each day to view tennis on Center Court, Court 1 & 2, but to get these you’ll have to queue (camp) early, possible up to two days before they are that popular!
There is four main ways to purchase tickets to this most popular of British sporting events;
- Enter the ballot for tickets, details can be found on their site.
- Several hundred tickets will be released and can be purchased through Ticketmaster the day before each days play.
- Queue up with thousands of other tennis fans, but you might need to be a day or two early for the ‘show court’ tickets in the last week and the last four days there are no court tickets sold to the queue. However, ground passes are sold to the queue everyday.
- Failing all that, if you have a wad of cash to burn, you can buy hospitality tickets.
Queuing is a very popular option and one I have done many times. It’s basically a British institution than many Londoners and visitors have experienced! It is extremely well organized, complete with polite stewards who hand out queue cards to secure your position and prevent any queue jumping as you need a card to be able to buy a ticket!
I like to attend Wimbledon on the middle Saturday and get a ground pass as it often has some high quality tennis and the atmosphere on Henman Hill is unmatched! However, if the weather is forecast to be fine, it is wise to line up in the very early hours (I arrived last year at 1am and was still number 3,000 in the line) because there’s a good chance if you arrive after 6am you may miss out getting in when the gates open at 10am. The first 500 in the queue each day will get the chance to purchase ‘show court’ tickets.
You can kill time while waiting with your friends by having a few drinks, snacking, sleeping, throwing a Frisbee or reading a good book. Despite what you might expect there is a lot of comradery, excitement and anticipation while waiting in line. There is a luggage storage facility before you enter the grounds too so no need to worry what you’ll do with all your overnight gear and be sure to bring cash as there is no card facility.
Once you get through the ticket gates and into the grounds, be sure to either secure yourselves the best position you can on Henman Hill before taking a stroll around the outside courts. You may even be able to take turns with your friends to mind your spot on the hill while you watch a few matches on any of the smaller courts (Courts 4 – 19).
One secret tip is to find the Ticket resale kiosk at the back of right side of the Henman Hill as this is where you can purchase unwanted tickets to Center Court and courts 1&2 later in the day for between £10-5 and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see a few hours of tennis for next to nothing! This experience of sitting inside Center Court always tops off an amazing day!
Undoubtly is the feeling of watching a big match on (hopefully) a sunny afternoon, with three thousand others, enjoying the pimps and strawberries that are so traditional of Wimbledon is an unforgettable experience!