Girls sit by their tents as they queue to buy Wimbledon tickets Photo: AFP

No end in sight for Wimbledon queue


Tennis-lovers camp out overnight for Wimbledon tickets -- and the All England Club's boss wants to keep it that way, having slept on the pavement himself to get in.

Chief executive Richard Lewis, 64, said he slept outside the grounds as a teenager in order to see the 1968 men's final.

Queueing is a great British tradition -- and the most traditional of Britain's summer sporting occasions is not seeking to end it.

Every day, approximately 500 tickets are available on each of Centre Court, Court One and Court Two for those in the queue.

But thousands more who want a simple ground pass face a lengthy wait -- and there are no plans to eliminate the queue by selling such tickets online.

"People seem to love it and I think it's a good example where technology could change things if you wanted to, but you'd think very carefully before you did away with it, because it does seem to be so popular," said Lewis.

"We haven't looked at technology for the queue. I wouldn't consider it, not for the foreseeable future. Most people say it's a wonderful experience."

Wimbledon remains one of the very few major British sporting events where visitors can still buy premium tickets on the day.

Since 2008, fans queue on the soft grass in neighboring Wimbledon Park in southwest London rather than on the hard pavement alongside the All England Club boundary walls.

"I queued here myself overnight. It's almost a rite of passage. I wouldn't do away with it in a hurry," said Lewis.

"I was 13. I queued up on the pavement and saw Rod Laver play Tony Roche in the final.

"My brother and I came along and it was a great experience. It was wonderful -- and it's wonderful now to meet Rod Laver and say to him, 'I saw you win that match'!"

In Centre Court's Royal Box on Saturday, Australian great Laver, 80, was presented with a special replica of the men's trophy to mark the 50th anniversary of his fourth and final Wimbledon title.

The tennis-lovers camping in the park come from all over the world.

Lewis went to meet fans camping out on middle Sunday, when Wimbledon has a rest day.

For Monday's play, a Centre Court ticket cost £130 ($163, 145 euros), while Court One was £110, Court Two £85 and a regular grounds pass £25.

"I walked around there on Sunday and the atmosphere was amazing. People were really enjoying themselves. It's just one of the great traditions," said Lewis.

"People on Saturday night, because play finished late, they didn't bother to go home, they just camped."

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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A grand tradition if you're a local, perhaps. It'd be a nightmare for the many people who are interested in traveling overseas to attend.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

We are local and it is a mixed blessing. Local businesses do a roaring trade. Traffic gets snarled up, even worse than usual, so however you travel, even by tube, you need to consider times and routes. Generally there is a lot of good humour around, though.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It’s a great day out and if you get there in the first week there are great matches and big players on all the courts.

Ariake could well do with taking some tips in how to host a tennis tournament. Why not even make it a grass tournament to make it stand out more?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I queued almost all day for a ticket and it was not fun in the least. Along the way there are caravans selling unhealthy and disgusting hamburgers and hot dogs at restaurant prices. Sandwiches were no better. Then approaching the gates they've put a makeshift exhibition giving the story of Wimbledon that was so dull I didn't see anyone glancing at it. Then you get to the gate and it's another hour to get through security. Anyone who says it's fun hasn't got a life

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Those who love it enough will go thru the hardship anyway

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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