when thousands of spectators wait for hours in search of tickets

The famous “Queue” allows you to get tickets to attend Wimbledon matches, both on the side courts and on the main courts such as the Central.

“Enjoy the Party”. At the entrance to Wimbledon Park, a park located directly opposite the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), tournament volunteers, here called the honorary administrators, welcome the numerous spectators looking for tickets on Tuesday 4 July. Like every year, many of them take part in the famous “Tail”, a long queue that allows you to buy a ticket for the day on the adjacent fields but also and above all on the main fields. 1,500 tickets are sold for Center Court and courts 1 and 2 (i.e. 500 per court), as well as numerous “land pass” which give access to the enclosure and to the smaller pitches.

At 8 in the morning there are already thousands waiting in a serene and jovial atmosphere. Some arrived early in the morning, while others preferred to pitch their tent the day before to maximize their chances of winning tickets on the big fields. This is the case of David and his mother Angela, installed in the park of Wimbledon since Sunday.

David is a regular at the queue, this is his eighth participation. And every time, he’s gotten places. On Monday he was already able to go to pitch number 1 and watch the matches of Iga Swiatek and Casper Ruud, who beat the French, out of qualifying, Laurent Lokoli. “Iga Swiatek was absolutely fantastic. And I think she can win Wimbledon,” rejoices this enthusiast who saw the Pole play for the first time.

David and Angela arrived on Sunday and planned to stay all week to hopefully see as many matches as possible, especially on the main pitches.  (APOLLINE MERLE / FRANCEINFO SPORT)

Tara and George, a couple in their 30s, arrived at 5:45 this morning. If George has already joined the queue a few times, Tara discovers this atmosphere for the first time. “It’s great fun and very well organised. We were expecting some rain this morning, but we’re going through the drops right now. Fingers crossed,” she smiled, sitting on the grass next to George, on their tournament-colored bedspread.

A guide to good behavior

When they get to the queue, the honorary administrators gave them a card, dated and numbered, indicating their position in the queue. Each of the newcomers is then placed in a line, again numbered 1 to 9, then led by volunteers to advance in line. Tara and George are numbered 1919 and 1920. “I hope that we will get tickets to the adjacent courts but if we could get tickets to court number two that would be great. Why is Dominic Thiem playing today” adds George, a fan of the Austrian e “from his one-handed backhand”.

Each spectator receives a dated and numbered ticket, to know his position in the queue.  They are even given a sticker stating: "I queued in the sun"to include: "I lined up in the sun".  The same exists for rainy days.  (APOLLINE MERLE / FRANCEINFO SPORT)

In addition to this ticket, spectators receive a queue guide with practical information, advice and a code of conduct: future ticket holders must respect the neighbourhood, not smoke in queue, listen to music or play football after 10pm. Barbecue is also prohibited. Only two-person tents are allowed, and luggage space is very limited.

The AELTC “reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone who engages in unreasonable social behavior or causes hindrance, danger or discomfort”, specifies the code of ethics. Once in line, you must not leave your position or else you will lose your seat. “Temporary absence in queue to purchase refreshments or for a bathroom break must not exceed 30 minutes”, cite the document.

Tara and George, a couple in their thirties, line up on July 4 at Wimbledon Park.  For Tara, this is her first experience of this Wimbledon tradition.  (APOLLINE MERLE / FRANCEINFO SPORT)

The queue, the spirit of Wimbledon

Waiting for the few hours that the queue lasts, to each his own hobby. “It’s not very exciting for us, but we’re evaluating ideas for home renovation,” Tara laughs. For Grory, Mihir and Holly, three friends aged between 25 and 28 who are in their first training, the options are varied. “I have a ball in my bag to play a few games”, begins Mihir. “And I have a little blanket to take a nap”, adds Holly, gesturing at her gear.

“We looked at the schedule to find interesting matches. And we listen to music, lots of music. Otherwise we send emails and work”, explains Tim, accompanied by his son Matthew. Arrived a little later than expected due to their train being late, around 7:30am, their number is not the most favourable. “We are about 4,000. I don’t know if we will have tickets. The only thing I can tell you is that there are many people behind us”, maliciously entrusts the one who just wants to see tennis, regardless of the players. The further the line advances, the more it winds through the stands of drinks, snacks and activities offered by the brands. The speakers play the hit of the British singer Harry Styles How it wasand the screens pass the images of the tournament.

Left to right: Grory, Mihir and Holly, three friends aged between 25 and 28 competing in their first cue, at Wimbledon on 4th July.  (APOLLINE MERLE / FRANCEINFO SPORT)

“We live in London so we thought it was easy to try and make the day go by. There’s a great atmosphere and that’s part of the spirit of Wimbledon. There’s a friendly, pleasant and relaxed atmosphere,” Holly slips. What George confirms: “The Queue really is the atmosphere of Wimbledon. It is important to be there at least once. There is a camaraderie and everyone is in a good mood. People get into the atmosphere very early. A few bottles of champagne have already been uncorked this morning” , he laughs.

For David, queuing is even a must to come to Wimbledon. “Get seats through the lottery (only way to get seats outside the queue, with the form to be filled in by December 31st of the previous year), it’s a little bit of luck. In the event of a draw, you choose neither the date nor the court. And what I love here is coming to camp and meeting people and waiting for games and other fun.” Over the first two days of the tournament, seat prices vary between £27 for ‘pitch tickets’, £46 for pitches 2 and 3, £75 for number 1 and £80 for center pitch. As the days go by, prices gradually rise, reaching £255 on Sunday for the men’s center court final.

Numerous signs indicating the start of the queue surround the Wimbledon stadium and ground.  (APOLLINE MERLE / FRANCEINFO SPORT)

Every day, most of the spectators lined up in the morning have almost guaranteed access to the stadium. At around 1pm yesterday, the organizers tweeted that the stadium had reached theirs “full capacity” recommended “to those who intend to queue today not to go to Wimbledon”. “If we leave without a ticket, I will never come back”, laughs Tim, with his wry humor. “Let’s just go to breakfast”, he glides back, smiling, over his son.

David and Angela stayed by their tent this morning and will try their luck tomorrow. Today they take the time to rest. “Yesterday was very long and a bit complicated to be honest. This year security has been tightened at the stadium entrance and the queue has been hugely delayed. We even risked missing the start of our match” , says Angela, disappointed. Faced with discontent, the organizers corrected this little mess the next day.

For the three friends Grory, Mihir and Holly, whose tickets place them towards the 2000th position, no worries for today. If of course they would like to one day be able to watch a game on center court, the goal of the day is much simpler. “Let’s just hope we get access to the attachments, Grory says, being able to walk around the venue and be able to sit on the hill to watch Andy Murray play, enjoying strawberries and cream.”

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