Remember your a womble: A queuers guide to Wimbledon

Welcome to Wimbledon!

Welcome to Wimbledon!

So I have just got back from my first ever visit to Wimbledon Tennis Championships. All I can say is it was brilliant! I camped over night and managed to get tickets for No.2 Court ūüôā

When I was researching camping out in the queue I didn’t find much relevant information, the website has the basics but not comprehensive guide, so I thought I’d have a go at making my own guide/diary of my time there in the hopes that it gives an insight to any in the future who come across it.

‘Wimbledon remains one of the very few major UK sporting events where you can still buy premium tickets on the day of play’ as the official website states. It really is great that you can just turn up without having to get your ticket in advance and it makes life so much more fun. You can’t get tickets for the last four days though (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday of Week 2) but if you’re there early enough you might be able to bag Centre court tickets by camping over!

Mmm pizza

Mmm pizza

The queue doesn’t really start as a queue, but more a mass campsite. We got the train to Wimbledon Station and walked the 30 minutes walk to Wimbledon Park (right out of the station, up Wimbledon Hill Road, along the High Street, down Church Road to Car Park 10) and arrived at about 9pm. You can get buses or taxis too. When we got there we went and found the end of the campers and were given our queuing cards which tell you which number you are in the queue. This means you don’t actually have to queue and make sure you are there the whole time, your card proves it. I was one thousandth, one¬†hundredth¬†and twenty first in the queue and we told this meant we would be able to get No.2 Court tickets (¬£32) or Ground Passes (¬£17).

We pitched up our tent in our space. Its not really a set space, you get as much as you need really. There are plenty of people to chat to, people throwing frisbees or having a rally in the field. Theres also a burger van, ice cream van and toilets. Yes! Real toilets! Not just holes in the ground. They flush!

Our home for the night

Our home for the night!

We sat around and chatted for several hours (tip: bring cards or a game of some sort or prepare to get very very bored, even if you think you’re friends are interesting). After this people started quieting down and we prepared to go to sleep. Sadly, others did not share this feeling as a group of idiots decided to shout long into the night despite being asked by official stewards 5 times to be quiet. (Tip: bring ear plugs, or iPod with relaxing whale music to cover the sounds of said idiots). Even when the idiots shut up we still had to contend with Snory McGrunt, (or Baron von Snor, SnoryMan, Grunty McSnorter, whatever we would like to call him) sounded like a wounded buffalo all night. Its OK, we stole one of his free red bulls to make up for it (yes free redbulls! If you’re lucky the redbull fairy might come and drop two cans outside your tent!)

After an incredibly long and sleepless night due to the lack of pillows and headphones/ear plugs we were awoken. I seriously recommend the following if you want to enjoy your time at all:

  • Ear plugs or some way of cutting out the outside world
  • A comfy bed, a blow up bed, lilo etc
  • A pillow
  • A thin sleeping bag or nice blanket. We are currently in the middle of a heatwave so I took a large duvet cover sheet which was OK but I wish I’d had something slightly cosier
  • A torch
  • Some cards
  • Booze (although don’t get rowdy and ruin it for everyone else! Maybe use it more to knock yourself out?)
  • Face wipes for a quick ‘shower’ when necessary.
  • A book. There is a fair amount of sitting around waiting (as is common with queues) so a book will really help alieviate boredom.

At around 6am we were asked to start packing up our tents and forming into neat lines bunched together, these were then lead off into the long queue that runs through the nearby golf course and right up to Gate 3. Sometime during this queue you will be asked if you would like any certain ticket (first 500 people can get centre court, not sure of the numbers for No.1 Court or No.2 Court, and there are 6000 ground passes up for grabs). If you would like a ticket they will give you a wristband after checking your queue card number. You need this to buy your ticket!

Gradually the queue will move along, at 9.30 they let everyone in to buy their tickets. The majority of Wimbledon grounds aren’t open until 10.30 though so there isn’t much to do except wander or check out the gift shop!

From then on you are welcome to do as you please. There are many courts where you can see matches for free (although for some of the higher ranked players you might need to queue to get a seat!) There are also places to see the players warming up and having smaller matches.

Food wise there is of course the mainstay of Wimbledon: strawberries and Pimms. Pimms is ridiculously expensive at around £6 for a large glass, but the strawberries are fairly reasonable, a large handle for about £2.20 with lashings of cream. There are many restaurants and cafes within the village. Some ridiculously expensive, such as The Wingfield, which has to be booked in advance (and thus is probably far out of the budget of most Queuers!), some slightly cheaper, such as The Cafe Pergola, which provides light lunches and snacks. There is also the Aorangi Food Court right next to the Aorangi Terrace (more commonly known as Henman Hill, or even Murray Mound these days) where you can get self-service food to eat on the hill or wherever you can find to park your bum. Being wonderful poor students we had already planned ahead and brought along a nutritious meal of lemon drizzle cake, apple turnovers and plenty of (now melted) chocolate. We sat down at the Tea Lawn (you can get drinks and sandwiches here also). Although, as its Wimbledon, expect everything to be pretty pricey.

Venus and Serena

Venus and Serena

When it comes to actually watching some tennis, the first port of call is of course the Order of Play board right at the entrance. You can see what matches you want to see and what time. With our Court No.2 tickets we chose to watch the Williams sisters vs King and Groenefeld in the doubles. The match was of course very very exciting, although the blistering heat bearing down soon got to me, and I did have to take a break to go and get some water from the fountain. This is where sun cream is necessary! Although I did still manage to get sunburnt just on my thighs! Don’t forget to make lots of ‘oooooh’ noises if any of the players decide to challenge a point!

One other thing I also enjoyed was the ball sale which takes place near courts 15 and 16. The sale happens every few hours where you can buy used tennis balls by the players! Of course you never quite know who they were used by or for how long, but wouldn’t it be nice to play your own match with a real part of tennis memorabilia!

Order of Play

Order of Play

I hope this guide has helped out any people thinking of joining the fantastic Wimbledon Queue. Its certainly an experience in itself! I’ll be there next year, hope to see you too!

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~ by franhaselden on July 1, 2009.

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