Wimbledon, one of the greatest and most prestigious tennis championships in the world. Players do anything they can to win and spectators do anything they can to get their hands on tickets.
Like a lot of sporting events you can buy tickets online in a ballot allocation process. A lot of people miss out this way as so many people apply for the ballots which are selected at random often selling out in minutes. However there is a way of getting tickets without the ballot. Most people don’t actually realise that Wimbledon is actually one of the only major UK sporting events where you can buy premium tickets on the day of play.
How do I get my hands on these tickets I hear you ask…you must join ‘The Queue’.
We heard about The Queue during the first week of the tournament during Summer 2016 and decided to give it a shot. We had never been to Wimbledon before and thought it would be an amazing experience to tick off the old bucket list. So one Friday afternoon Grace and I trundled along with our tent in hand and joined the famous queue.
Walking from the tube station in Wimbledon we followed the signs pointing towards the tournament and then the signs pointing towards the queue. Eventually we came to what appeared to be a large grassed paddock. Here thousands of people were setting up tents in orderly lines. Marshals around the grounds ushered us over to the end of the line where two officials were directing people into the queue and issuing them with a queue card, dated and numbered with your position in the queue for the next day and the order in which you will be allowed to purchase tickets. We were given our queue cards just as the rain started to come down, fortunately for us our tent is a quick assemble and soon we were huddled up inside sipping cider and listening to people hustling to put their own tents up.
Eventually the rain passed and we were able to take a stroll around and view our campsite for the night. The rain had made the ground quite soft and as the evening drew on more and more people were turning up to join the queue, the grass was slowly turning to mud.
With more people came more of a festival atmosphere with people drinking and playing music from their tents. Dotted around the campsite were plenty of food trucks providing warm meals (once you join the queue you are not permitted to leave your position for large lengths of time, heading down the road for dinner is not a good idea as marshalls have the right to remove unattended equipment and revoke queue cards). After doing a circuit of the grounds we wandered up into a beautiful pond and garden area which was slightly isolated from the crowd developing below. We returned to our tent before sundown and the stewards were walking around informing everyone that tents needed to be packed away tomorrow by 5:45am, we took this as our que to turn in.
At around 4 o’clock the next morning people who did not camp the night began to arrive and continued to grow the queue behind the tents. This meant that the wake up call was not needed as more and more people arrived for that day’s play. We eventually packed up our tent and took our things to the storage provided, then once again we took our place in the queue checking other people’s queue cards to determine where we should stand.
Here we waited for around 2 hours before we finally started to shuffle into the complex itself. We passed numerous coffee stands along the way, serving life saving liquid to all those who needed, Unfortunately our queue cards were not high enough to grab center court tickets for that day as they are sold on a first come first serve basis, so the earlier you join the queue the better your chances, we joined around 5pm the day before and that wasn’t early enough so keep that in mind). As we had missed out on center court we got general admission instead for around 25GBP.
Having missed out on center court tickets we quickly scanned the order of play board at the tournament entrance and found a court where two players we wanted to watch were playing. We ended up getting front row seats in our chosen court and had a fantastic day watching the tennis. We couldn’t believe how close we got to the players, it was fantastic. When we weren’t watching the tennis we were taking it in turns to fetch a cup of Pimms and a bowl of strawberries and cream (keep in mind that food and drink is quite expensive within the club grounds.
An awesome experience and one I would recommend you do if you are in London during summer.
For the 2018 Championship, ballots have already closed so joining the queue may be your only hope. Have fun queuing guys!
What you need to bring:
This Coleman Adult Mummy Sleeping Bag bag is a simple yet effective make, distributing heat evenly throughout the bag to keep you toasty warm.
The Vango Banshee 300 tent has enough room for two people and a few small bags. As well as being incredibly light, easy to carry it is also quick to set up.
One thing we wish we had but didn’t think to take was an inflatable mattress. This one from Amazon ( OutdoorsmanLab Self-inflating Sleeping Pad ) is pretty cheap and will perform well for this style of camping condition.
Lastly always remember to take some Wellingtons with you because you don’t want to get left stuck in the mud.