The arrival of summer in England also marks the beginning of The Championships fortnight. Drinking Pimms, eating strawberries and cream, and players only wearing white outfits on court are all part of the rituals at Wimbledon. But one of the tournament’s most enduring traditions is queuing at The Championships. We have all heard about it, seen it on the telly, and perhaps thought those people nuts, but it is an experience every tennis fan out there should do at least once. So here are five tips on how to make the best out of your Wimbledon queuing experience.
Arrive Early When Queuing at The Championship
Wimbledon is the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world and a very popular sporting event not only in the UK, but also around the globe. And because The Championships is the only grand slam that sells show court seats the same day with reasonable prices, many people vie for it by queuing at The Championship. Plan accordingly. Book your accommodation in London the night before. Then after a good night’s rest, hop on the District line that will take you to Southfields as early as 6am and join the throngs of excited tennis fans heading towards Wimbledon Park to start queuing at The Championship. Arriving as much as 30 minutes later can determine if you will get access or not.
Do Not Lose Your Queue Card
It sounds elementary, but this is the most important advice any Steward and seasoned queue attendee will tell you. The way it works is that once you arrive at the end of the queue, a Steward will issue you a card that guarantees your spot even if you step out for a bit to buy a drink or use the loo. That card is your placeholder and literally your pass to get through the gates. The folks at the All England Lawn and Tennis Croquet Club (AELTC) take queuing very seriously, they even developed a booklet of rules and an entire page on the Wimbledon website specifically for it. So lose your card and you lose your spot, your pass, and the likelihood of getting into the grounds on that day.
Make a Day Out of It
Let us be honest here… You will be waiting for a while on the grounds of Wimbledon Park before you even enter the grounds and cross the gates. Most people who queue for grounds passes arrive around 6:30am and the people for Centre or Court No. 1 have been camping there since the night before. The grounds do not officially open until 9:30am so you are looking at least a few hours of waiting so make a day out of it. Pack a picnic with some cheese, crackers, fruits, and champagne. Perhaps throw in a blanket, a hat, and an umbrella too (it is England summer after all). Put on some sunscreen, read up on your tennis knowledge, and just have fun.
Make New Friends
This is a good as time as any to get to know the people around you. The situation could not have been more perfect. You already know that you have something in common. You can pretty much deduce every individual there has patience, dedication, and a sense of adventure (all good qualities in my opinion). Otherwise they will not be spending this much time waiting in line. Besides, these are the same people you will be mandated to look at and listen to for the next several hours. It might make time go faster if you include yourself in the conversation. Oddly enough, most of the people who queue are locals themselves, so in addition to making new friends, you will also get a chance to find out information that only seasoned attendants will know. For example, which food stand gives the most generous portion of cream or where is the best spot to watch on “Henman Hill”; nothing like arming yourself with a bit of local knowledge.
This is The Championships! Several thousands of people gathered in one place and excited about tennis is not a regular occurrence so soak in the atmosphere! There are sponsors that provide free gifts, bands that play music to keep the crowd entertained, and booths that have a variety of activities relating to tennis. It is one giant park party every day for two weeks. It is also important to point out that The Queue is where the true fans are. These are some of the most knowledgeable tennis fans out there and the ones who truly love the sport to actually enjoy being a part of this particular tradition.
Plenty of memorable matches have been contested at the hallowed grounds of All England Club and to have the opportunity to become part of history is what keeps fans like me coming back for more.