Written By: Jason Parks
My girlfriend and I were planning a trip to England in the Summer of 2017. Since I’m a huge tennis fan, I suggested that we make the trip during a week of the Wimbledon Championships. Since the first week of the Championships fell over the July 4th holiday (meaning we didn’t have to miss as much work), my girlfriend agreed that we could travel then and try to get into the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.
Every year, Wimbledon conducts a lottery and a small number of people who submit a ballot are granted the right to purchase Centre Court or Courts No. 1 or No. 2 tickets. However, for overseas residents, ballots for 2017 Wimbledon tickets were due in September of 2016. We were quite a few months too late so we moved to more realistic options.
The first place we checked for tickets (and by tickets, I mean Centre Court, Court No. 1, and Court No. 2) was Ticketmaster, StubHub, and other ticket resale marketplaces, as is commonplace for Americans. I do not believe Wimbledon tickets may generally be resold on such ticket resale websites, but that does not stop people from trying. Wimbledon tickets were outrageously expensive, listed for over $800 USD per ticket to watch the first and second day, which is well outside of our budget. Not to mention it is impossible to guarantee to the legitimacy of any tickets purchased, so we said no thanks. That being said, a limited amount of tickets are issued by Wimbledon (these are legitimate) a day prior to the match on Ticketmaster. We were busy exploring London and were not always guaranteed to have great network service or Wi-Fi, so we didn’t even try, but it’s worth a shot—just know that to snag a Wimbledon ticket, you’ll more than likely have to join the “Queue” (more below) unless you get lucky!
We Then Learned About “Queueing”
My girlfriend did all of the research behind this so I give her a lot of credit for figuring this out. I’m a huge tennis fan and have been watching Wimbledon for years, but I never heard of the term queueing or knew what it meant. However, there is nothing unique to the name—Brits refer to a line as a “queue.”
According to Wimbledon’s website, Queueing is the process where you can purchase Centre Court, Court No. 1, Court No. 2, Court No. 3 or grounds admissions tickets for face value the day of the tournament. Grounds admission tickets are just that—admission to the grounds—but not admission to Centre Court, Court No. 1 or Court No. 2. The Queue is the only way to purchase grounds admission tickets, which were £25 for day 1 tickets in 2017, or equivalent to $42 USD. You could also obtain Centre Court tickets for £56 , Court No. 1 for £45, Court No. 2 tickets for £41 and Court No 3. tickets for £43 on day 1, but availability is much more limited. The caveat behind tickets purchased in the Queue is that they are issued on a first come, first serve basis.
**Don’t be discouraged though, if you want to get onto Centre Court, I have a trick for you towards the bottom of this article!**
When you arrive in the Queue, you will receive a Queue card that has a number on it. That number represents your place in line, and it holds your place, within reason—technically you lose you place in line if you leave the Queue for more than 30 minutes. The turnstiles open at 9:30 AM and the gates open at 10:00 AM. The Centre Court, Court No. 1, and Court No. 2 tickets are gone quickly. Any person who wants Centre Court, Court No. 1, or Court No. 2 tickets must arrive the day before. We were told the first “Queue’er” arrived early Saturday morning at 1:00 AM for Monday tickets. In fact, we arrived by 7:00 AM and there was already a Queue forming for the following day. So if you are gung-ho on waiting for Centre Court, Court No. 1, or Court No. 2 tickets, bring your camping gear!
We were only aiming for grounds admission tickets so this was no big deal, still a crazy early morning though. Wimbledon distributes around 7,000-8,000 general admission tickets per day. We were Nos. ____ & ___ in the Queue and started moving around 11:30 AM and were inside by 12:30 PM. We were told that we were father back than people who had arrived at the same time in years past, so day 1 of 2017 was busier than usual, but we had no problems getting in. Don’t plan on arriving any later than 7:00 AM though, and I recommend arriving even earlier if possible.
How to Get to the Queueing Station
If you’re coming from central London, take the District or Circle line of the Underground to Southfields Underground Station. This is the closest station to the Queue. You then can take a bus to the Queue, but I recommend just making the 10 to 15-minute walk to a giant field right next to a golf course where the Queue begins. You will know you are in the right place—there are signs everywhere from the moment you disembark the train, and just follow the crowd. Upon arrival, you will receive a ticket which has your “Queue” number. Get ready to sit (or stand, if you can handle it) for a few hours! You’ll line up in the row that coincides with your number and you will not move for a few hours. Those at the front of the line will be let inside, section by section, starting around 10:00 AM, but with recent security enhancements, the Queue will move at a very slow pace. From where we were in line (number 6,248) it took another 90 minutes to get to the front of the line, through security and into Wimbledon!
Other Tips for a Successful Day of Queueing
Bring a cooler, blanket and sunscreen – You’ll be waiting a long time to get into Wimbledon, so make yourself comfortable. There are food and beverage stations at the Queue, but if you want to save money, pack your own lunch and beverages (yes, alcohol is permitted). You’ll also want to bring a blanket and perhaps a tarp/poncho if rain is in the forecast. Wimbledon is known for cloudy skies and rain so a blanket will give you a comfortable place to park your rear. I would also recommend bringing sunscreen. I got massively burnt after sitting in the sun for 5 hours. Make sure you protect your skin as you will be outside all day!
Bring Cash – All of the food vendors on the queueing grounds only take cash – This could change after 2017 but I’d recommend bringing cash so you don’t starve yourself. There are ATMs available if needed. I actually did not bring cash and learned that you can leave the queuing grounds temporarily and return to your place in line (it helps if you have someone with you). Behind all of the food vendors, there is a place to enter or exit the queueing grounds and within a block, there is a convenience store. The store does cash back and if you forgot food, drinks, or alcohol, and don’t want to wait in line at the vendors on site or you don’t have cash, you can grab some here.
BYOB – We were pleasantly surprised to learn that Wimbledon lets you take in your own food and beverages into the stadium grounds. It is actually very neat as you will see people popping champagne throughout the day. Alcohol can be pricey inside, so bring your own alcohol if you want to save on costs! A very lovely British lady in front of us in the Queue was not able to bring in her wicker picnic basket, which we believe was due to the shell of the basket. If you are going to bring in your own food or beverages, make sure you keep it in a soft-shell cooler or bag. Side Note: Wimbledon does offer luggage storage for a fee, so our new friend was able to store her wicker basket for the day.
Getting onto Centre Court
One of our favorite parts of Queueing was interacting with the locals around us. The couple in front of us let us know that when people leave the confines who have Centre Court or other show court tickets to Wimbledon, they turn them into a box office. The resale box office opens at 3:00 PM at the top of Murray’s Mound (formerly, Henman’s Hill) and any person inside may wait in a queue to purchase them for as little as 3 [POUNDS]. My girlfriend and I were perfectly content with watching matches on the side courts, very close to the action.
Best of Luck!
We hope you find this guide helpful. Don’t let the expensive tickets online discourage you from attending the worlds greatest tennis tournament. If you follow the proper steps to Queue, you can get into Wimbledon for a reasonable price and brag to your tennis friends that you made it to the Championships at the All England Club!